I used to read Drudge Report almost daily. I also used to enjoy LinuxHomePage.com, which is now gone.
The movie is basically done. I’m still getting some feedback from some technical people, and I need to work more on credits, some sound effects that got lost, etc. and a few other small details.
I’ve made a new trailer:
I hope people like it. I’ll upload it to YouTube in a few days. Feel free to give any feedback in the comments.
Neural networks have started to take off since AlexNet in 2012. We don’t have to call it a software war, but there’s a competition for mindshare and community contributors in neural networks.
Of course, AI needs more than a neural network library, it needs the configuration hyperparameters, training datasets, trained models, test environments, and more.
Most people have heard of Google’s Tensorflow which was released at the end of 2015, but there’s an active codebase called PyTorch which is easier to understand, less of a black box, and more dynamic. Tensorflow does have solutions for some of those limitations (such as Tensorflow-fold, and Tensorflow-Eager) but these new capabilities remove the need for other features and complexity of Tensorflow. Google built a high-performance system for doing static computation graphs before realizing that most people want dynamic graphs. Doh!
And how much do you trust Google, anyway?
PyTorch was created by people from Idiap Research Institute in Switzerland, who went to Facebook and Google. Doh!
My bug was closed within 8 hours with the following response from a Facebook employee:
The bug was closed but I could keep commenting:
I got one more response:
I wrote one more response:
It’s a shame that copyleft seems to be losing mindshare. If the contributors who like copyleft lit some torches, and created a fork, or threatened to, it could get the attention of the large corporations and convince them to relicense rather than risk the inefficiencies, bad press, slower progress and loss of relevance. Forks are a bad thing, but copyleft can prevent future forks, and prevent people from taking but not giving back.
Whether a PyTorch fork makes sense depends on a number of factors. The LibreOffice fork was created because people were unhappy about how Sun and then Oracle were working with the community, etc. If the only thing wrong with PyTorch is the lax license, it might become successful without needing the copyleft nudge, but how much do you trust Facebook and Google to do the right thing long-term?
I wish PyTorch used the AGPL license. Most neural networks are run on servers today, it is hardly used on the Linux desktop. Data is central to AI and that can stay owned by FB and the users of course. The ImageNet dataset created a revolution in computer vision, so let’s not forget that open data sets can be useful.
A license like the GPL wouldn’t even apply to Facebook because the code runs on servers, but it would make a difference in other places where PyTorch could be used. You’d think Facebook could have just agreed to use a GPL or LGPL license, and silently laugh as they know the users don’t run their AI software.
Few people run Linux kernels remotely so the GPL is good enough for it. Perhaps it isn’t worth making a change to the PyTorch license unless they switch to AGPL. Or maybe that’s a good opening bid for those with torches and pitchforks.
I posted a link to this on the Facebook Machine Learning group, and my post was deleted and I was banned from the group!
I posted a link to the Google Deep Learning group and got some interesting responses. One person said that copyleft is inhibiting. I replied that if keeping free software free is inhibiting, there isn’t a word to describe the inhibitions with proprietary software!
One of the things I notice is that even though many people understand and prefer copyleft, they often encourage a lax license because they think other people want that also. There are a lot of people pushing for lax licenses even though they actually prefer copyleft.
People inside Facebook and Google know the pressure to write proprietary code better than those outside. They should be pushing for copyleft the most! On Reddit, someone suggested the MPL license. It does seem another reasonable compromise similar to LGPL.
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