What is Hugging Face? – Free AI models without the code

The world's best open-source machine learning hub

Hugging Face open-source machine learning platform with 430K free AI models.

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Hugging Face is a developers’ playground, with thousands of freely accessible AI models to try. Even with zero coding experience, you can test out the latest and (sometimes) greatest artificial intelligence of today. Best of all, you can do so from the comfort of your web browser – no downloads required. How can something so useful, so accessible, and so cutting-edge be free? Let’s explore the biggest and best open-source machine learning platform on the web.

What is Hugging Face?

Hugging Face, founded in 2016 by Clement Delangue, Julien Chaumond, and Thomas Wolf, is a for-profit machine-learning hub for software engineers. The website provides access to over 430K models, which include those of Google, OpenAI, Meta, and more!

These ML models will perform a wide variety of artificially intelligent tasks, such as natural language processing (NLP) which we’re all familiar with thanks to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google Bard, and Microsoft’s Copilot (formerly Bing Chat). In addition to providing a fast way to develop your own AI chatbot for text generation, you’ll find copy-paste code for text classification, image classification, video classification, speech recognition, sentiment analysis, and more in the Hugging Face transformers library. You’ll even find training data for creating your own models in the Hugging Face datasets library.

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The internet’s best open-source machine learning platform

Open-source is computer software that anyone can use, modify, and inspect right down to the source code. It’s in the word, really; The source code is ‘open’ and accessible to all. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that anyone can modify it because you’ll still need to be able to read and write code. Legally speaking, however, go for it!

In more specific terms, Open source software is “released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to use, study, change, and distribute the software and its source code to anyone and for any purpose.” ‘Open sourced’ can also be used as a verb, as in cases where previously private software is open sourced. With our English lesson concluded, let’s look at how this relates to Hugging Face.

But how do you use it? Let’s simplify this!

How to use Hugging Face

Head to the tasks page. Here you can view an easily digestible overview of the different tasks you can perform with open-source machine learning models on the website. There’s documentation on everything, when you do want to really sink your teeth in.

Hugging Face, the open-source machine learning platform.
A variety of machine learning objectives, as listed on the Hugging Face tasks page.

Click on any task you want to complete, and you’ll find hundreds, maybe thousands, of free-to-use AI models waiting for you. Some of the most popular tasks include text classification (with over 43,000 models), automatic speech recognition (with over 13,000 models), and text-to-image generative AI, where you’ll find Stable Diffusion.

Steve is the AI Content Writer for PC Guide, writing about all things artificial intelligence. He currently leads the AI reviews on the website.