Human Native AI creates the market for AI training licensing agreements

AI systems and large language models must be trained on enormous amounts of data to be accurate, but they should not train on data they have no right to use. OpenAI licensing agreements with The Atlantic and Vox last week show that both sides of the table are interested in making these AI training content licensing deals.

Human Native AI is a London-based startup that is creating a marketplace to broker such deals between the many companies building LLM projects and those wanting to license data from them.

Its goal is to help AI companies find data on which to train their models while ensuring that rights holders accept and get paid. Rights holders upload their content for free and connect with AI companies to land revenue sharing or subscription deals. Human Native AI also helps rights holders prepare and price their content and monitor for copyright infringement. Human Native AI takes a cut of each transaction and charges AI companies for its transaction and monitoring services.

James Smith, CEO and co-founder, told TechCrunch that he got the idea for Human Native AI from his past experience working on Google’s DeepMind project. DeepMind also encountered issues related to the lack of reliable data to properly train the system. Then he saw other AI companies running into the same problem.

“It feels like we’re in the Napster era of generative AI,” Smith said. “Can we get to a better era? Can we make it easier to acquire content? Can we give creators some level of control and compensation? I kept asking myself: why isn’t there- Is there no market?”

He presented the idea to his friend Jack Galilee, an engineer at GRAIL, during a walk in the park with their respective children, as Smith had done with many other potential startup ideas. But unlike in the past, Galileo said they should go for it.

The company launched in April and is currently operating in beta. Smith said the demand from both sides is really encouraging and they have already signed a handful of partnerships that will be announced in the near future. Human Native AI this week announced a £2.8 million funding round led by LocalGlobe and Mercuri, two UK micro-VCs. Smith said the company plans to use the funding to strengthen its team.

“I’m the CEO of a company that was founded two months ago and I’ve been able to meet CEOs of 160-year-old publishing companies,” Smith said. “This suggests to me that there is strong demand on the publishing side. Likewise, every conversation with a major AI company plays out in exactly the same way.”

Although it is still in its early stages, what Human Native AI is building appears to be a missing piece of infrastructure in the growing AI sector. The big AI players need a lot of data to train on and give rights holders an easier way to work with them, while giving them full control over how their content is used, it seems be a good approach that can make both sides of the table happy.

“Sony Music just sent letters to 700 AI companies asking them to cease and desist,” Smith said. “It’s the size…

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