Elon Musk’s Grok chatbot is going open source, but maybe not for the right reasons

 Elon Musk.
Elon Musk.

In its bid to become one of the best AI tools around right now, Elon Musk is set to release the source code to X Corp’s Grok AI chatbot to the public this week.

The decision, as TechCrunch reports, comes with Musk’s filing of a lawsuit in early March 2024 against ChatGPT developer OpenAI, claiming that it has strayed from its original purpose of developing artificial intelligence technology ‘for the benefit of humanity’ and now pursues profit.

OpenAI, a company that, until February 2018, Musk was a founding board member of, has now publicly refuted the lawsuit by presenting emails spanning over a decade that purport to show Musk supporting the push for the company to make a profit, and even for a merger with Tesla.

Heartbreaking: the worst person you know just made a solid 49% of a great point

Musk had reportedly invested $44 million in the company before leaving in February 2018 to do such good for the planet as committing the civil offense of libel as an exercise in public relations and spreading misinformation about Covid-19 up until the point that he caught it.

So, the best metaphor that comes to mind for Musk is that of a stopped clock. It's hard not to argue that free and open source software is good and worth fighting for, especially if the alternative is being funded by Microsoft.

At the same time, he’s been warning against AI’s threats to privacy for years, but can still get the facts wrong even when his broader point hits the mark.

As a parting thought in the town square of ideas, consider that XAI’s Grok is currently in early access, locked behind an X Premium subscription.

Given that Musk owns X, and that Grok will still likely be hosted on it as an X Premium feature, it’s worth considering whether incentivising X Premium subscription purchases is also ‘for the benefit of humanity', and whether Musk's plan to make Grok open-source is just, at the most charitable, a PR stunt designed to get ahead of those e-mails, and at the least, a theater play put on by a hypocrite.

Grok may be about to be open-source, but I fear that, to Musk, the move may be as part of a 'gotcha' moment, rather than him genuinely believing that the public domain is where it belongs, because it's hard to believe that Musk has ever been about doing good for humanity.

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