Startups

Elon Musk to open-source xAI’s Grok chatbot this week

In another swing at OpenAI, Elon Musk announced on Monday he would open-source its ChatGPT rival “Grok” to the public this week. The announcement comes a few days after Musk sued OpenAI for abandoning its altruistic mission in favor of a for-profit model.

Taking to his social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), Musk said, “This week, @xAI will open source Grok.”

Musk’s post drew swift reactions, with one prominent figure from X, challenging OpenAI to follow suit, quipping, “OpenAI should do the same. If they are ‘open,’ that is.” Musk didn’t hold back, asserting, “OpenAI is a lie.”

The decision to open-source Grok could democratize access to the underlying technology, positioning xAI alongside industry players like Meta and France’s Mistral, both champions of open-source AI models. Notably, Google has also thrown its hat into the ring with its AI model, Gemma, offering developers an opportunity to customize it to their specifications.

Musk’s stance against technology profiteering by tech giants, notably Google, has been unwavering. His recent lawsuit against OpenAI, a company he co-founded in 2015 but departed from three years later, underscores his commitment to this cause. In a tit-for-tat exchange, OpenAI released several emails from Elon Musk about turning the company into a “for-profit” entity amid an ongoing lawsuit.

The debate around open-sourcing in AI has captured the attention of tech investors, including OpenAI backer Vinod Khosla and Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz. While proponents argue that open sourcing accelerates innovation, skeptics warn of potential misuse, invoking scenarios of terrorists harnessing AI for nefarious purposes or the creation of uncontrollable super-intelligences.

Musk’s vision for AI safety, articulated at Britain’s AI Safety Summit last year, includes the establishment of a “third-party referee” to monitor AI development and raise red flags when necessary.

With xAI, Musk aims to provide an alternative to the status quo dominated by OpenAI and Google. Launched last year, xAI promises to be a beacon of “maximum truth-seeking AI.” Grok’s rollout for Premium+ subscribers earlier signaled Musk’s intent to disrupt the AI landscape, a sentiment echoed in his podcast conversation with Lex Fridman, where he lamented OpenAI’s departure from its nonprofit, open-source roots.

In Musk’s own words, “The name, the open in open AI, is supposed to mean open source, and it was created as a nonprofit open source. And now it is a closed source for maximum profit.”

Musk announced the launch of Grok on November 6, 2023, adding that the AI chatbot will possess a “rebellious streak” and bring a sense of humor and sarcasm, which sets it apart from rival chatbots like ChatGPT and Google Bard.


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