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Musk vs Altman: AI Springs Forward in 2024 Part One


Musk Altman Lawsuit


Our favorite billionaire engineer to follow, at least for SEO purposes, is sticking his massive green thumb in yet another mass-market pie. Or, using his recent folksy euphemism, milking yet another cash cow where once again “X” marks the spot.  

  • xAI to open-source their Grok chatbot, in an attempt to rival ChatGPT.
  • The lawsuit move is perceived as a continuation of Musk’s feud with OpenAI’s Altman.
  • Musk claims OpenAI abandoned its original mission in pursuit of profit.
  • Open-sourcing Grok could accelerate development and attract customers.
  • Feud reflects changing power dynamics in the AI industry, with Musk attempting to provide an alternative “politically incorrect” AI not available from Google’s Deep Mind or Microsoft-supported ChatGPT. 
  • Grok is described as having a “rebellious streak” with access to real-time data, without the PC (politically correct)  bias inherent in other moderated Large Language Model AIs. 
  • AI companies need extensive data for training large language models and open-sourcing is the quickest way to attract users for AI evolution and development. 

“X” Marks the Spot in the AI Gold Rush 

Elon Musk’s AI company, xAI, plans to open-source its Grok chatbot, as a rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The lawsuit is the latest maneuver in a feud between Musk and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman over the company’s shift to commercialization and alleged departure from its original commitment to open-source, not-for-profit AI. 

Grok is available at X, but only to X Premium Plus subscribers, which stretches the definition of “open source” in itself. Apparently “conversational AI for understanding the universe” comes only at a premium in Musk World, where contradictions in terms are Business as Usual.  

Musk has criticized ChatGPT for being politically correct and has expressed a desire for an alternative AI option to Google and Microsoft. OpenAI denies Musk’s claims but has received significant funding from Microsoft. 

Open-sourcing Grok could have commercial benefits, allowing developers and potential customers to test and improve the model, accelerating xAI’s development. Musk has a history of embracing open-source technology, such as releasing elements of Tesla’s cars and some algorithms his social-media platform X used. 

The feud between Musk and Altman highlights the shifting power dynamics in the AI industry, with OpenAI leading the current boom while xAI plays catch-up. Musk has described Grok as having a “rebellious streak” and claims it has access to real-time information through X. AI companies require vast amounts of data to train their large language models, and Musk has raised concerns about other companies scraping proprietary data from X.

Open AI’s Steve Altman Strikes Back 

Musk’s opening shots in the ongoing legal battle between Elon Musk and OpenAI, alleging breach of contract and unfair competition, have not gone unchallenged.  CEO Sam Altman and President Greg Brockman have issued a public rebuttal to Musk’s lawsuit. While Elon’s carbon footprint may be his priority, his digital footprints don’t support his legal story. 

OpenAI’s response includes releasing a series of emails from Musk that appear to contradict his current claims about the company:

Key Points from OpenAI’s Rebuttal

  • Musk previously encouraged OpenAI to raise at least $1 billion in funding.
  • Musk agreed with OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever that the company should “start being less open” over time.
  • Musk told OpenAI’s co-founders that he believed the company had a 0% chance of succeeding against competitor DeepMind at Google without a “dramatic change in execution and resources.”

Implications for Musk’s Lawsuit Against Open AI

Musk’s lawsuit against OpenAI alleges that the company has breached its original contract and engaged in unfair competition. OpenAI’s rebuttal suggests that Musk may have previously agreed with some of the actions that he is now challenging. Musk’s email trail shows that he supported OpenAI’s decision to raise significant funding. This contradicts his current claim that OpenAI has become too profit-driven.

Similarly, Musk’s emails indicate that he agreed with OpenAI’s plans to become “less open” over time. This, again, is in contrast to his public statements that OpenAI should remain an open-source company. Overall, OpenAI’s rebuttal raises questions about the validity of Musk’s lawsuit. The court will certainly consider Musk’s past statements and actions when making a judgment in the case. 

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