IDEFICS: An Open-Access Multimodal AI Model

November 16, 2023


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is improving rapidly with the creation of new AI models that can understand different types of information like text, image, and audio. These models are taking technology to new levels by allowing a better and more complex way of dealing with the digital world, much like how we humans take in and share information.

Open-access movement is also growing in AI. This idea is all about making AI knowledge, tools, and models free and open to everyone. Open-access is important because it helps bring more people together to improve and use AI technologies in different places and ways.

Hugging Face is at the forefront of this change, which is a data science platform and community that helps users build, deploy and train machine learning models. IDEFICS (Image-aware Decoder Enhanced à la Flamingo with Interleaved Cross-attentionS) is a new AI model that is easy to use for both learning and solving real-world problems. Let's take a closer look at IDEFICS, its applications, limitations, and challenges.

Understanding Multimodal AI

Multimodal AI is all about technology that can handle and make sense of different kinds of information. Multimodal AI can take in text, images, sounds, and videos, and understands them all as part of a bigger picture, just like how our brains work with our senses. Earlier, AI systems could only manage one type of data at a time. But as our world got more digital and complex, we needed AI that could understand things the way we do, with all our senses working together. So, researchers started building multimodal AI, which combines different kinds of data for a fuller picture.

The advantages of a multimodal approach are manifold. These systems can:

  • Enhance the accuracy of data interpretation by cross-referencing multiple sources of input.
  • Improve the context and depth of AI interactions, leading to more reliable and natural user experiences.
  • Enable more comprehensive data analytics, as patterns can be recognized across different types of data.
  • Drive innovation in sectors like autonomous driving, healthcare, and customer service by providing AI that can understand complex scenarios and respond appropriately.

Open-Access AI Models

In the early days of artificial intelligence, many AI models were proprietary, with their underlying algorithms and data kept under lock and key. This closed-source approach limited the speed of innovation, as researchers and developers outside of the creating institutions had little to no access to these advanced tools. The field was dominated by a few who had the resources to build and maintain such complex systems.

The shift towards open-source AI models marked a democratic turning point in technology. By allowing anyone to view, modify, and distribute the underlying code, open-source AI has paved the way for unprecedented levels of innovation and collaboration. Developers and academicians from around the globe can now contribute to the growth and improvement of AI models. This collaborative environment accelerates the pace of discovery and application, leading to rapid advancements in the field.

Introduction to IDEFICS

IDEFICS is one of these open-access AI models. It is not just a smart piece of tech; it's proof that when everyone works together, we can do amazing things. IDEFICS is not just a technological triumph but a testament to the power of collective intelligence. The open-access nature of IDEFICS ensures that it can be a foundation for future AI developments.

IDEFICS is a publicly accessible version of DeepMind's Flamingo, which is a visual language model. Like the advanced GPT-4 that handles both images and text, IDEFICS also takes in both types of data and responds in text form. This model is unique because it's created entirely from data and models. It is versatile, and can explain images, respond to questions about them, spin tales from a series of images, or just act as a text-based language model if there are no images involved.

When tested against various images and text tasks—like answering visual questions, both open-ended and multiple choice, describing pictures, and recognizing what's in images—IDEFICS matches the performance of the original model that isn't shared with the public. It's designed in two sizes: a larger version with 80 billion parameters and a smaller one with 9 billion parameters.

The trained version not only improves how well they perform in tasks but also makes them better at carrying on conversations. The enhanced models, dubbed idefics-80b-instruct and idefics-9b-instruct, show improved performance.

Features of IDEFICS

The IDEFICS model has one of the best multimodal AI frameworks, merging distinct data streams into a cohesive analytical engine. Its architecture is robust yet flexible, enabling the synthesis of various data modalities. IDEFICS is not just another AI model; it is a versatile platform capable of handling both images and text. 

  • Textual Analysis: This consists of layers specialized in natural language processing. These layers parse, understand, and extract features from textual data, utilizing techniques such as tokenization, embedding, and contextual analysis.
  • Visual Processing: The image processing layers are equipped to deal with a variety of image formats. They extract features from pixels using Neural Network, which are adept at recognizing patterns, shapes, and textures in visual data.

The features of IDEFICS are as follows:

  • Multimodal Fusion Capabilities: The blend of both image and text data analysis providing insights and advantages.
  • Self-Learning Mechanisms: The model's self-learning capabilities ensure that it becomes more accurate and efficient over time.
  • Open-Access Advantage: Being an open-access model, IDEFICS encourages a collaborative approach to innovation, allowing developers worldwide to contribute to and benefit from its evolving capabilities.

IDEFICS in Action: Use Cases

Some of the real-world scenarios where IDEFICS could be applicable are:

  • Healthcare Diagnostics: Using patient medical records and radiographic images, IDEFICS could assist in providing preliminary diagnoses by cross-referencing symptoms (text) with scan images.
  • Social Media Moderation: By analyzing textual posts along with associated images, IDEFICS could help identify and flag inappropriate content or misinformation spread across social media platforms.
  • Retail Customer Experience: In retail, IDEFICS can enhance the shopping experience by providing product recommendations through analyzing customer reviews (text) and product images.
  • Autonomous Vehicles: IDEFICS could be employed in the development of smarter autonomous driving systems that interpret road signs (text) and detect traffic signals or potential hazards (image).
  • Educational Tools: For educational software, IDEFICS could offer more interactive learning experiences by correlating educational content (text) with relevant diagrams or illustrations (image).
  • Search Engines Optimization: IDEFICS could revolutionize image-based search engines by improving the accuracy of search results, pairing text queries with visual data to provide more relevant results.

Implementing IDEFICS

IDEFICS is one of the few models that offers an intuitive User Interface (UI) that can run a few fine-tuned models directly in the browser. Users are not required to undergo the traditional installation process to run in the system, but since it is open source, anyone can run it if required. Two of the fine-tuned models are AI Dad Jokes and IDEFICS Playground. 

AI Dad Jokes

AI Dad Jokes is a humorous AI that generates jokes and memes from images. It is a fine-tuned version of IDEFICS, which creates playful and contextually aware jokes or captions. It is similar to GPT-4, which can understand and describe images, answer questions about them, and tell stories based on them.

IDEFICS Playground

IDEFICS Playground is another fine-tuned version of IDEFICS. This version was fine-tuned on a mixture of supervised and instruction fine-tuning datasets to make the models more suitable in conversational settings. It uses a combination of image and text as an input to give a text based output. The sample inputs given to IDEFICS Playground and the received output are shown in Table 2. 

Four different responses and prompts are tested. The first two prompts use a pulse checking image as the input image. A hand is holding another person’s wrist and listening to the three different types of pulse. When prompted to explain the image, it gave a detailed description of the image to a satisfactory level. In the second prompt, we ask how many fingers are visible, to which it said 2 fingers. However, 4 fingers are clearly visible. The third and fourth prompts use the same image as used in the AI Dad Joke. When asked to explain about the image, it gives a detailed explanation of the features of E2E Networks. When asked what country the company is based in, it accurately understood the question and answered correctly that it is based in India. 

Challenges, Limitations, and Ethical Considerations

The sophisticated capabilities of IDEFICS come at the cost of high computational demands, which could limit access to the model for individuals or organizations with constrained resources, for those who would like to fine tune their own version. However, since IDEFICS Playground is also offered as a UI, it can be directly used by those who would like to use the already fine-tuned version. The model has been trained on lots of data. Despite the comprehensive training of IDEFICS, it may still generate medically related diagnostic statements which should be approached with caution. For instance, when asked to evaluate medical imagery such as X-rays, the model may provide responses that seem authoritative yet lack the necessary medical accuracy. Users are advised against using IDEFICS for medical diagnosis or any applications requiring professional expertise without additional, specialized adaptation and rigorous evaluation.

Maintaining data privacy and ethical use of AI technologies is an ongoing concern. IDEFICS’s ability to handle sensitive data necessitates stringent privacy measures to prevent misuse. IDEFICS’s performance is also subject to the quality and nature of its training data. Despite efforts to curate content responsibly, there is a chance of the model encountering or generating inappropriate content, particularly stemming from the OBELICS dataset it was trained on, which contains explicit material. This underscores the importance of continuous monitoring and filtering to uphold content standards.

In recognizing these limitations, the development community is called upon to address these concerns actively, ensuring that IDEFICS not only advances in technical proficiency but also in its capacity to serve as a safe, ethical, and reliable AI tool.

Future Enhancement and Ethical Development

Enhancing IDEFICS to responsibly navigate sensitive content, improve its diagnostic advisories, and broaden its understanding of complex data types are prime areas for future development. It's critical that such advancements go hand in hand with the reinforcement of ethical guidelines to govern the use and evolution of the model.

Future developments could include refining the model's ability to process and understand more complex data structures, optimizing its performance for lower-end hardware to increase accessibility, and expanding the model's multimodal capabilities to encompass additional data types such as sensor data or live video feeds.

By promoting a collaborative ecosystem, the model can benefit from diverse perspectives and expertise, accelerating innovation and ensuring that the model remains adaptable and relevant to various user needs. Encouraging open-source contributions, shared datasets, and communal problem-solving will be key strategies in driving IDEFICS forward.

Looking ahead, IDEFICS has the potential to reshape the landscape of multimodal AI interaction. Its adaptability makes it a prime candidate for integration into various sectors, ranging from creative industries to technical fields. The long-term vision for IDEFICS encompasses a model that is not only technologically advanced but also one that aligns closely with ethical AI principles, delivering benefits while mitigating risks associated with AI deployment.


From the above discussed sections, it is clear that IDEFICS stands as a significant milestone in the AI landscape. This model exemplifies the remarkable potential of open-access frameworks in driving innovation and collaboration in the AI field. 

While a browser version is available as a fine-tuned model, its main purpose is to use it as a custom fine-tuned version for users. However, fine-tuning and running the model may require the use of high-end GPUs.

On E2E Cloud, you can utilize various GPUs including A100 and H100 for a nominal price. Get started today by signing up. You may also explore the wide variety of other available GPUs on E2E Cloud.


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