Consolidation of AI, ML and Date Projects at The Linux Foundation


The Linux Foundation consolidated its projects around AI, ML & Data by bringing them under the umbrella of the LF AI & Data Foundation. Swapnil Bhartiya, founder and host at, sat down with Ibrahim Haddad, Executive Director of LF AI & Data to discuss this consolidation.

Transcript of the discussion:

Swapnil Bhartiya: A lot of consolidation is happening within the Linux Foundation around AI/ML projects. Can you talk about what AI/ML & data projects are there under the Linux Foundation umbrella right now?

Ibrahim Haddad: So, if you think of Linux Foundation, it is kind of a foundation of foundations. There are multiple umbrella foundations. There’s the CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation), there’s LF Edge, there’s the Hyperledger project, automotive, et cetera. And LF AI & Data is one of these umbrella foundations. We share the same goal, which is to accelerate the development of open-source projects and innovation. However, we each do it in our specific domains.

We’re focused on AI, machine learning, deep learning, and the data aspects of AI. The LF AI & Data Foundation was initially kicked off as LF Deep Learning in March of 2018. We grew a bit, and we started to host projects in other subdomains within the AI umbrella. And then we rebranded again to LF AI & Data to reflect the additional growth in our portfolio.

As of today, we host 22 projects across multiple domains of machine learning, deep learning, data models, and trusted AI. We have, I believe, 36 numbered companies that are involved in our foundation.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Within the Linux Foundation, there are a lot of projects that at times overlap, and then there are gaps as well. So, within the AI/ML space, where do you still see gaps that need to be bridged and overlaps that need consolidation?

Ibrahim Haddad: When a project is contributed to the foundation, we see under which umbrella it fits, however it’s the decision of the project where they want to go, we only offer guidance. If projects do overlap under the same umbrella, it’s their call to make. In terms of consolidation, we’re actually in the process of doing this at least in the AI space. We recently announced the formation of LF AI & Data, which consolidates two projects – LF AI Foundation and ODPi.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you also talk about what are the new goals or new areas that the Foundation is focusing on after this consolidation and merger?

Ibrahim Haddad: The first one is increasing the collaboration between the projects that are on the data side and the traditional open-source AI projects that we host. We host about seven projects that focus on the data and 15 projects in the general AI domain. One of the activities we launched, which we are going to accelerate in 2021, is creating integration across different projects so that companies see a tighter integration within projects inside the foundation.

The second area is trusted AI to build trust and a responsible AI system, which is really a hot topic across industry verticals including governments, NGOs and companies. They all are putting emphasis on building fair systems, systems that don’t create bias, systems that are transparent, systems that are robust. Building trust with the consumer of these systems is a very critical thing. So trusted and responsible AI would be a key area in addition to the integration and growing the data/AI collaborations.