April 21, 2024
Elon Musk says xAI's chatbot 'Grok' will launch to X Premium+ subscribers next week

Elon Musk’s AI startup xAI will open-source Grok, its chatbot rivaling ChatGPT, this week, the entrepreneur said, days after suing OpenAI and complaining that the Microsoft-backed startup had deviated from its open-source roots.

xAI released Grok last year, arming it with features including access to “real-time” information and information that countered “politically correct” views. The service is available to customers paying for X’s $16 monthly subscription.

Musk, who didn’t elaborate on what all aspects of Grok he planned to open-source, helped co-found OpenAI with Sam Altman nearly a decade ago as a counterweight to Google’s dominance in artificial intelligence. But OpenAI, which was required to also make its technology “freely available” to the public, has become closed-source and shifted focus to maximizing profits for Microsoft, Musk alleged in the lawsuit filed late last month. (Read OpenAI’s response here.)

“To this day, OpenAI’s website continues to profess that its charter is to ensure that AGI ‘benefits all of humanity.’ In reality, however, OpenAI has been transformed into a closed-source de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft,” Musk’s lawsuit alleged.

The lawsuit has ignited a debate among many technologists and investors about the merits of open-source AI. Vinod Khosla, whose firm is among the earliest backers of OpenAI, called Musk’s legal action a “massive distraction from the goals of getting to AGI and its benefits.”

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, accusing Khosla of “lobbying to ban open source” research in AI. “Every significant new technology that advances human well-being is greeted by a ginned-up moral panic,” said Andreessen, whose firm a16z has backed Mistral, whose chatbot is open-source. “This is just the latest.”

The promise to imminently open-source Grok will help xAI join the list of a number of growing firms, including Meta and Mistral, that have published the codes of their chatbots to the public.

Musk has long been a proponent of open-source. Tesla, another firm he leads, has open-sourced many of its patents. “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology,” Musk said in 2014. X, formerly known as Twitter, also open-sourced some of its algorithms last year.

He reaffirmed his criticism of Altman-led firm Monday, saying, “OpenAI is a lie.”

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