Elon Musk released the code for his AI chatbot Guruk. Here’s why it matters.

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Some of the world’s biggest companies and richest people are battling over a question that will help shape the future of AI: Should firms disclose exactly how their products work?

This move contrasts with the approach taken by OpenAI, the company behind the popular AI text bot ChatGPT. OpenAI, which is part-owned by tech giant Microsoft, chose to release relatively few details about the latest algorithms behind its products.

Elon Musk did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment. Neither did OpenAI.

In a statement earlier this month, OpenAI rebuked claims that the company kept its AI models secret.

“We advance our mission by making useful tools widely available. We’re making our technology widely usable in ways that empower people and improve their everyday lives, including through open source partnerships,” the company said. “We provide broad access to today’s most powerful AI, including a free version that millions of people use every day.”

Here’s what to know about Grok, why Elon Musk revealed the computer code and what it means for the future of AI:

What is Musk’s AI chatbot, Grok?

On multiple occasions, Musk has warned against the dangers of political bias in AI chatbots, which help shape public opinion and risk the spread of misinformation.

However, content moderation itself has become a polarizing topic and Musk has voiced opinions that place his approach in this hot-button political context, some experts previously told ABC News.

In November, xAI debuted an early version of its first product, Grok, which responds to user prompts with humorous comments based on the classic sci-fi novel “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Grok is powered by Grok-1, a large language model that generates content based on statistical probabilities learned from scanning vast amounts of text.

“We believe it’s important to design AI tools that are useful to people of all backgrounds and political views. We want to empower our users through our AI tools,” xAI said in a blog post in November. who are subject to the law.” “Our goal with Grok is to explore and demonstrate this vision in public.”

Why did Musk make the code publicly available?

The decision to release the code behind Grok touches on two key issues for Musk: the threat posed by AI and the ongoing battle with rival company OpenAI.

For years, Musk has warned that AI threatens social harm. In 2017, he Tweeted: “If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be.” And more recently, in March 2023, he signed an open letter warning of the “profound threats to society and humanity” posed by AI.

In remarks on Sunday, Musk appeared to frame the decision to open source as a means to ensure transparency, protect against bias and reduce the risk posed by Grok.

“There’s still work to be done, but this platform is already the most transparent and truth-seeking,” Musk said. said In a post on X

The move is also directly related to the public spat between Musk and OpenAI.

Musk, who co-founded OpenAI but left the organization in 2018, sued OpenAI and its CEO, Sam Altman, earlier this month, alleging that the company has turned profits to benefit humanity. Abandoned his mission to deliver.

A few days after the lawsuit was filed, Musk said X said he would drop the case if OpenAI changed its name to “ClosedAI”.

In a statement earlier this month, OpenAI said it plans to move to dismiss all of Musk’s legal claims.

“As we discussed a profitable structure to advance the mission, Elon wanted us to merge with Tesla or he wanted full control. Elon left OpenAI, saying that Google/ “DeepMind needs to have a relevant competitor and he’s going. He said he’ll support us in finding our own way,” OpenAI said.

What are the stakes in the battle over open vs. closed source AI?

The debate over releasing the computer code behind AI products is divided by two competing views of how to limit damage, remove bias and improve efficiency.

On the one hand, proponents of open source argue that publicly available code allows a broad community of AI engineers to identify and fix flaws in a system, or to repurpose it for purposes other than its original purpose. Prepares

In principle, open source code allows programmers to improve the security of a given product while ensuring accountability by making everything publicly visible.

“Anytime someone builds a piece of software, there can be bugs that can be exploited in ways that can cause security risks,” Carnegie Mellon University professor Suvik Das told ABC News. told. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the most brilliant programmer in the world.”

“If you’re open source, you have a whole community of practitioners who dig holes and gradually build patches and defenses over time,” Das added.

In contrast, proponents of closed source argue that the best way to protect AI is to keep computer code private so that it stays out of the hands of bad actors, who can reuse it for malicious purposes.

Closed-source AI also has a leg up for companies that want to take advantage of innovative products available to the wider public.

Christian Hammond, a professor of computer science at Northwestern University, told ABC News that “closed-source systems are more difficult to reuse for nefarious reasons because they already exist and there are only things you can do with them. can.” .

Last month, the White House announced it was requesting public comment on the benefits and risks of open-source AI systems. The move comes as part of a larger set of AI rules issued by the Biden administration via executive order in October.

Das, of Carnegie Mellon, said Musk’s open-source release may be influenced by both public and private interests, but the move has sparked a much-needed conversation about this aspect of AI security.

“Even if the motivations aren’t necessarily entirely pure, the fact that it’s raising public awareness around this idea of ​​open versus closed — and the benefits versus the risks of both — is exactly what is what we need in society right now. To raise public awareness,” said Das.

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