Open Source in Artificial Intelligence: Why it Matters to Give Away Your Software for Free

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I. Introduction

Open sourcing some technologies is kind of counterintuitive at a first look. Why on earth should a company give away what they invested money and people in? I have already written on this trend, but I keep sharpening my thinking around it and this post is a consequence of recent new considerations.

The open source model is quite hard to be reconciled with the traditional SaaS model, especially in the financial sector. However, we are observing many firms providing cutting-edge technologies and algorithms for free. While in some cases there is a specific business motivation behind it (e.g., Google releasing Tensorflow to avoid conflict of interests with their cloud offering), the decision of open sourcing (part of) the technology actually represents an emerging trend.

Tools are nowadays less relevant than people or data and the sharing mindset is a key asset for organizations. Based on this statement, we can divide the considerations on open source in two clusters, which are business considerations and individual considerations.

II. The Business Perspective

From a business perspective, the basic idea is that is really hard to keep the pace with the current technological development and you don’t want your technology to become obsolete in three months time. It is better to give it out for free and set …

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