Mozilla Launches Startup, Focus on AI You Can Trust

Mozilla Launches Startup, Focus on AI You Can Trust, Jakarta – On the eve of its 25th anniversary, Mozilla, the nonprofit behind the Firefox browser, is launching an AI-focused startup. Mark Surman, Executive President of Mozilla and Head of said the company’s mission is to build open source, trustworthy AI with

“Working with trustworthy AI for almost five years, I constantly feel a mix of excitement and anxiety,” Surman told TechCrunch in an email interview, Wednesday, March 22, 2023.

“The last month or two of fast big tech AI announcements have been no different. Really exciting new technologies emerged — new tools that immediately sparked artists, founders… all kinds of people to do new things. Anxiety sets in when you realize that almost no one has seen the guardrails,” he added.

Surman referred to the many AI models in recent months which, while impressive in their capabilities, have worrying real-world implications. Upon release, OpenAI text generator ChatGPT could be asked to write malware, identify exploits in open source code, and create phishing websites that look similar to well-trafficked sites. Text-to-image AIs like Stable Diffusion, meanwhile, have been singled out for creating pornography, non-consensual deepfakes, and ultra-graphic depictions of violence.

The makers of this model say they are taking steps to curb abuse. But, Mozilla feels it’s not enough.

“We have been working on trustworthy AI on the public interest research side for about five years, hoping other industry players with more AI expertise will step up to build more trustworthy technology,” said Surman.

“They haven’t done it. So we decided mid last year we needed to do it ourselves – and found like-minded partners to do it with us. We then set out to find someone with the right mix of academic and AI industry experience to lead it.”

Funded by an initial investment of US$ 30 million (Rp 450 billion) from the Mozilla Foundation, Mozilla’s parent organization, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation — similar to Mozilla Corporation (the organization responsible for developing Firefox) and Mozilla Ventures (VC Mozilla Foundation funds). The managing director is Moez Draief, who was previously chief scientist at Huawei’s Noah’s Ark AI lab and global chief scientist at consulting firm Capgemini.

Karim Lakhani from Harvard, Navrina Singh from Credo, and Surman will become’s initial board members. Lakhani is chairman and co-founder of the Digital, Data, and Design Institute at Harvard, while Singh is a member of the US Department of Commerce’s National AI Advisory Committee, which advises the president on a wide range of AI ethical issues.

Surman describes as part research firm, part community — a startup dedicated to helping create a trustworthy and independent open source AI stack. Initially,’s priority was to build a team of around 25 engineers, scientists and product managers to work on a reliable recommendation system and a large language model that aligns with OpenAI’s GPT-4. But the company’s broader ambition is to build a network of allied companies and research groups — including Mozilla Ventures-backed startups and academic institutions — who share the same vision.

“We think there is a commercial market in trustworthy AI — and this market needs to grow if we are to change how the industry builds AI into the applications, products and services we all use every day,” said Surman.

“ — working loosely with allied companies, researchers, and governments — [memiliki] the opportunity to co-create a ‘trust first’ open source AI pool. If we are successful, the industry mainstream will pull from this stack as part of their regular toolkit, just as they have done with the Linux and Apache stacks for the last two decades.” will not do it alone. Several non-profit organizations are on a mission to democratize AI tools, including the newly formed EleutherAI Institute, funded by enterprise backers, including Canva and Hugging Face. There’s also the Allen Institute for AI, founded by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and the Alan Turing Institute. Smaller and more promising endeavors include AI startup Cohere For AI and Distributed AI Research Timnit Gebru, a global decentralized research organization.


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