Contributing Writer,

Tech mogul Elon Musk has created his own chatbot, Grok, and he open sourced it, an apparent salvo against OpenAI, the company he co-founded but walked away from in 2018, citing a conflict of interest with his work at Tesla. Grok stills needs some tweaking, he says.

Since leaving, Mr. Musk has made it clear that he has a fundamental disagreement with OpenAI, a disagreement that his team of lawyers have explained in a 46 page lawsuit filed against OpenAI, on Mr. Musk’s behalf, in the Superior Court of California on February 29, 2024. In that lawsuit he claims that OpenAI, and its’ CEO Sam Altman, and President, Greg Brockman, “set the Founding Agreement aflame.” OpenAI is based in San Francisco, and the creator of ChatGPT and all of its iterations.

The timing of the release of Grok though Mr. Musk’s company xAI, comes just days after the filing of the lawsuit, an apparent message by Mr. Musk, that Grok is representative of what he had in mind, and what he understood that Mr. Altman had in mind, as the product of their altruistic intentions.

On xAI’ s website, there is a declaration of the open-sourcing: “We are releasing the base model weights and network architecture of Grok-1, our large language model. Grok-1 is a 314 billion parameter Mixture-of-Experts model trained from scratch by xAI.”

Mr. Musk is one of the richest people in the world, and has built a portfolio that almost seems like that of a Marvel Hero’s, with SpaceX, Tesla, X (formerly Twitter), and several other tech holdings. Tesla’s Gigafactory Texas is a 2,500 acre headquarters with over 10 million square feet of factory floor.

But given his affinity with technology, Mr. Musk has expressed a human-first approach. He maintains that his space exploration is intended to someday find viable accommodations for humans in the event that our current accommodations somehow become inhabitable, and that electric cars are better for the environment.  He has repeatedly sounded alarm bells with regard to AGI, saying that it poses an existential threat to humanity if left unchecked.

In the lawsuit, Mr. Musk says that OpenAI has not adhered to the founding agreement to create AGI that is non-profit, open-sourced, and isn’t a potential threat to humanity. What’s more, according to the lawsuit, OpenAI has become a de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world, Microsoft.

“This case is filed to compel OpenAI to adhere to the Founding Agreement and return to its mission to develop AGI for the benefit of humanity, not to personally benefit the individual Defendants and the largest technology company in the world.”

Mr. Musk says he pumped tens of millions of dollars into OpenAI, to help it develop an LLM.

“Mr. Musk founded and funded OpenAI, Inc. with Mr. Altman and Mr. Brockman in exchange for and relying on the Founding Agreement to ensure that AGI would benefit humanity, not for-profit corporations. As events turned out in 2023, his contributions to OpenAI, Inc. have been twisted to benefit the Defendants and the biggest company in the world. This was a stark betrayal of the Founding Agreement, turning that Agreement on its head and perverting OpenAI Inc.’s mission. Image donating to a non-profit whose asserted mission is to protect the Amazon rainforest, but then the non-profit creates a for-profit Amazonian logging company that uses the fruits of the donations to clear the rainforests. That is the story of OpenAI, Inc.”

On March 5, Mr. Altman, Mr. Brockman, and several other principals at OpenAI signed a statement on the company’s website in response to Mr. Musk’s lawsuit:  “The mission of OpenAI is to ensure AGI benefits all of humanity, which means both building safe and beneficial AGI and helping create broadly distributed benefits. We are now sharing what we’ve learned about achieving our mission, and some facts about our relationship with Elon. We intend to move to dismiss all of Elon’s claims.”

The statement continued, “We’re sad that it’s come to this with someone whom we’ve deeply admired—someone who inspired us to aim higher, then told us we would fail, started a competitor, and then sued us when we started making meaningful progress towards OpenAI’s mission without him. We are focused on advancing our mission and have a long way to go. As we continue to make our tools better and better, we are excited to deploy these systems so they empower every individual.”


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