In the midst of controversy surrounding CEO Emad Mostaque and key executives departing due to copyright concerns, Stability AI, renowned for its Stable Diffusion, is reportedly exploring the possibility of a sale, casting a shadow over its future.
Bloomberg’s Wednesday report suggests that Coatue Management, a US-based technology investment company, fired off a letter to Stability AI in October, seeking comprehensive details on executive compensations, notably scrutinizing Mostaque’s leadership, which allegedly triggered the departure of senior managers.
As the storm brews around Stability AI, potential suitors for ownership remain elusive. However, emerging speculations point to AI marketing tool developer Jasper and Canadian AI innovator Cohere as prospective buyers, as disclosed by data analytics site PYMNTS.
Despite Decrypt’s attempts to solicit a response from Stability AI, the company has maintained silence on the matter.
Stable Diffusion and Controversies
Stable Diffusion, introduced in August 2022, employs generative AI to craft images based on user prompts. At its launch, Coatue valued Stability AI at a notable $1 billion. Much like its counterparts Midjourney and Dall-E, Stable Diffusion has courted controversy due to its association with AI-generated deepfakes, including those depicting world leaders and events.
In a surprising turn of events, Stability AI, along with Cohere, aligned itself with the Biden Administration’s commitment to responsible AI development in September. The company further participated in the UK Safety Summit at Bletchley Park in November, where a global declaration was made to regulate unbridled AI development. However, despite these pledges, internal conflicts regarding fair use have plagued Stability AI.
Executive Exodus Over Copyright Practices
The resignation of Stability’s VP of Audio, Ed Newton-Rex, marked a critical juncture in the company’s tumultuous journey. Newton-Rex publicly disapproved of Stability AI’s stance on training AI models with copyrighted material, a practice he deemed incompatible with the notion of “fair use.”
In a Twitter announcement, Newton-Rex expressed his disagreement with Stability’s position, emphasizing that his decision to resign aimed to shed light on a pervasive industry-wide issue. He highlighted Stability AI’s submission to the U.S. Copyright Office, portraying generative AI as a “transformative and socially beneficial use” of existing copyrighted content, protected by fair use.
Newton-Rex’s departure underscores a broader industry predicament, with numerous generative AI companies adopting a similar approach. Stability AI finds itself at the intersection of ethical considerations and industry norms, grappling with the repercussions of its practices amid the broader conversation about the responsible use of AI technology.