100+ AI Use Cases Across Industries

Understanding Open Source LLMs: The Definitive Guide 

June 21, 2024

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Did you know that LLMs have existed since the 1960s with Eliza, the first chatbot created by MIT’s Joseph Weizenbaum? Their development accelerated with the introduction of Long Term Short Memory networks in 1997, enhancing neural networks for handling large datasets. This progress expanded capabilities in Natural Language Processing (NLP), introducing tools for tasks like sentiment analysis and named entity recognition.

What are Large Language Models?

But what exactly is an LLM? Large language models (LLMs) are neural networks with billions of parameters, trained on vast amounts of text using self-supervised or semi-supervised learning. These versatile models can perform various tasks, from sentiment analysis to solving math problems.

Even though LLMs are trained on simple tasks like predicting the next word in a sentence, they grasp much of the structure and meaning of human language. They also accumulate a vast amount of general knowledge and facts during training. You can think of LLMs as highly flexible and powerful brains that can learn to do almost anything with enough data and computing power. So, when you ask ChatGPT a question, you’re engaging with one of the most advanced AI technologies available.

A major breakthrough occurred in 2017 with Google Brain’s “Attention Is All You Need,” which introduced the Transformer architecture based on attention mechanisms. Subsequent versions such as LLaMA, Bloom, and GPT-3.5 have continuously improved language processing speed and accuracy. This surge in popularity has driven significant investments across industries, notably in chatbots and AI virtual assistants.

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AI tools rely on LLMs to handle complex tasks.

Today, every AI tool or feature relies on a large language model (LLM) to handle complex tasks, and many of these models are open source. The global LLM market estimation reflects a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 79.80% during 2023-2030. This definitive guide explores Open Source LLM, revealing their significant impact and diverse uses as they increasingly become part of everyday life.

Understanding Open Source LLMs

Open source large language models (LLMs) are advanced artificial intelligence (AI) systems designed to understand, generate, and manipulate human language. They are called “large” because they are trained on vast amounts of data, covering a wide range of human knowledge and language patterns.

The term “open source” means that the model’s architecture, training code, and often the pre-trained weights are freely available for anyone to use, modify, and share. This accessibility promotes a collaborative and transparent approach to AI development, enabling a diverse group of researchers and developers to contribute to and benefit from these models without the high costs associated with proprietary systems.

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Open source LLMs are advanced AI systems for understanding and generating language.

The availability of open source LLM has democratized AI research and development, allowing a broader audience to experiment with and improve these powerful tools. This openness has accelerated advancements in natural language processing (NLP), as more people can contribute to and refine the models, leading to more robust and versatile AI applications.

“Open Source has become the new standard of modern software engineering which is now truly everywhere.” – Sebastian Weber

Difference Between Open Source and Closed Source LLMs

LLMs come in two primary types based on their availability: open source and closed source.

Open Source LLMs

Open source LLMs refer to language models with source code that are publicly accessible. This means anyone can use, modify, and distribute the code. The open source approach encourages collaboration and transparency, allowing developers, researchers, and enthusiasts to contribute to and improve these models. The ability to customize and share enhancements fosters innovation and collective problem-solving, making these models highly adaptable to various applications. Few examples of open source LLMs include LLaMA 2, BLOOM, BERT, and Falcon 180B.  

Closed Source LLMs

Closed source LLMs, in contrast, are proprietary models developed and maintained by private organizations or companies. Their source code is not available to the public, and access typically requires a license or subscription. The specifics of their architecture, training data, and algorithms are kept confidential. These models are often commercial products with usage governed by the terms set by their developers. Some of the popular examples of closed-source large language models include GPT-3.5 by OpenAI, Gemini by Google, and Claude by Anthropic.

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Open source LLMs are open for collaboration while closed source LLMs are proprietary.

Key Differences Between Open Source and Closed Source LLMs

CriteriaOpen Source LLMClosed Source LLM
1.AccessibilityAn open source LLM is available to everyone, allowing users to inspect, modify, and use the code freely.This unrestricted access contrasts with closed source LLMs, which are not publicly accessible and can only be used under specific conditions set by the owning organization.
2.CustomizationOpen source LLMs provide the flexibility to be tailored to specific needs. Users can adapt and fine-tune these models for various tasks, experimenting with new techniques. Closed source LLMs generally offer limited customization options since their underlying code is not accessible for modification.
3.Community ContributionsOpen source LLMs benefit from a vibrant community of developers and researchers who actively contribute to their improvement. This collective effort results in regular updates, bug fixes, and feature enhancements. On the other hand, closed source LLMs rely solely on their internal development teams for updates, limiting external input and innovation.
4.Licensing and CostsOpen source LLMs are typically released under permissive licenses that allow free usage, modification, and distribution, reducing costs for users. Closed source LLMs often require payment through licenses or subscriptions, reflecting their status as commercial products.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Source LLMs

Open source LLM brings numerous advantages, fostering innovation and building trust in AI. However, despite their many advantages, open source LLM also come with several challenges:

AdvantagesDisadvantages
1. Cost-EffectivenessAn open source LLM is often free, making it an affordable option for businesses. This cost-effectiveness allows companies to stay competitive without significant upfront investments. 
Small businesses and startups, in particular, can leverage these advanced AI tools to enhance their products and services without breaking the bank.
1. Ethical and Responsible UseThe unrestricted access to open source LLMs can lead to misuse, such as spreading misinformation or violating privacy. 
Ensuring ethical and responsible use requires proactive community governance and clear guidelines. Balancing innovation with the need to prevent harmful applications is a significant challenge.
2. Enhanced Collaboration and CustomizationOpen source LLMs facilitate efficient collaboration and customization. Developers worldwide can contribute to and benefit from collective improvements, accelerating innovation as diverse teams solve problems together. 
Additionally, these models can be optimized and customized for specific tasks, enabling businesses to tailor AI applications to their unique needs more effectively.
2. Data BiasesLLMs, whether open source or proprietary, can reflect and amplify biases present in their training data, resulting in skewed outputs. 
Addressing this issue necessitates vigilant oversight and diverse data curation. Ensuring fairness and inclusivity in AI-generated content is crucial to maintaining ethical standards.
3. Flexibility and Avoidance of Vendor Lock-InUsing open source tools helps companies avoid vendor lock-in, where they become dependent on a single provider. 
Open source LLM offers the flexibility to switch models or providers without incurring additional costs. This adaptability is crucial for businesses that need to pivot quickly or address specific requirements.
3. Quality and ReliabilityWhile community involvement in developing LLMs can spur innovation, it can also lead to variability in the quality and reliability of contributions. 
Without standardized oversight, these models may produce inconsistent results, which is problematic for applications requiring high accuracy. Ensuring high standards involves careful vetting and refining of contributions, a substantial challenge for open source projects.

Open Source LLMs Use Cases

Open source LLMs can be highly versatile and applied across numerous fields, showcasing their power and flexibility. With an open source LLM, you can enhance:

Sentiment Analysis

An open source LLM can help identify and classify opinions from feedback and social media, helping you understand customer sentiments. 

Suppose you are running a clothing store. You can use an open-source LLM to analyze customer reviews on social media. The LLM can identify positive (“Love this dress!”) and negative (“Zipper broke after one use”) comments, helping you understand customer sentiment and improve your products or services.

Content Creation

An LLM can assist writers and marketers by generating different creative text formats. For instance, you could provide a starting sentence about a new fitness tracker, and the LLM could create a full product description highlighting its features and benefits.

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LLMs can help generate articles, marketing copy, and product descriptions efficiently.

Chatbots 

Open-source LLMs can be fine-tuned to create chatbots that answer customer questions and provide basic support. 

For example, a travel company can use a chatbot to answer frequently asked questions about booking flights or hotels. 

Translations

LLMs trained on multilingual data can translate languages with surprising accuracy. 

This can be helpful for businesses with international customers or researchers working with foreign language materials. 

Research

LLMs can analyze massive amounts of data quickly, helping researchers find the most relevant information for their studies. 

For example, a scientist could use an LLM to scan through thousands of research papers to find studies related to a specific protein.

Customer Support

LLMs integrated into customer service systems can provide more nuanced and relevant responses to customer inquiries. 

This can improve the customer experience by offering faster and more helpful answers.

Educational Tools

LLMs can personalize learning by acting as tutors, generating practice problems, or providing accessible resources in different formats. 

This can be particularly beneficial for students with disabilities or those who require additional support.

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Open source LLMs make advanced capabilities accessible across industries for free.

The open source nature of these models makes these capabilities accessible to various industries at no cost. However, before adopting an open source LLM, it is important to consider factors such as customization needs, performance, support, and data privacy to ensure it aligns with your specific requirements.

The Future of AI is Here

The emergence of some of the best open source LLM platforms marks a significant shift in the landscape of artificial intelligence. These powerful tools, freely accessible and constantly evolving, democratize access to advanced language processing capabilities. This fosters innovation and empowers businesses to explore the potential of AI for tasks like sentiment analysis, content creation, and customer service.

“As open-source models become faster, more customisable, and more private, they present a formidable challenge to established market leaders.”

While open source LLMs offer immense potential, their utilization requires expertise. Lyzr acts as a bridge, simplifying the process of building and managing AI agents powered by these models. Its low-code framework streamlines agent workflows, and features like meta-prompt optimization ensure effective communication with the LLM. 

By leveraging Lyzr, you can harness the power of open source LLMs without getting bogged down in the technical complexities. Ready to transform your business with AI? Book a demo to start your journey with Lyzr today!

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