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ChatGPT isn’t open source, but these AI tools are

ChatGPT's relation to open-source software
Last Updated on April 10, 2024
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For those who aren’t familiar, ChatGPT is a highly advanced AI chatbot developed by OpenAI. The language model has been making headlines ever since its launch, near the end of last year, for its scarily human-like responses and outstanding capabilities. After the chatbot became public, many have been wondering whether ChatGPT is open-source. Unfortunately, it isn’t. There are a number of open-source software available for public use. This means users can modify the source code and subsequently change the design of the software. In this article, we look at what open-source software actually is, ChatGPT’s relation to it, and open-source alternatives to ChatGPT.

Quick Answer

ChatGPT isn’t open source. This means that the source code of the software is not publically available. By accessing the source code of the software, users are able to modify parts of the code, subsequently changing features of the platform.

What is open-source software?

Open-source software is software that is accessible with its source code also available. This means that users are able to modify, share, and enhance the source code of the software because its design is publicly accessible. Most users will never come across a software’s source code, as it’s the code which computer programmers modify to control and observe how a program behaves.

The term directly relates to a specific approach to creating computer programs. However, it has now become a term that encapsulates a broader range of values. With open-source projects, products, and initiatives embracing the open exchange and collaborative nature of software development. In order to access open-source software, the developer has to release the platform with the source code for free under an open-source license. Then users can access the source code free of charge.

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ChatGPT isn’t open-source

The language model, GPT-3.5, that the AI bot was built upon is not open source. In other words, you cannot access or modify the model’s source code. Interestingly, in the past, OpenAI was once a non-profit company that would release its projects and code to the public.

However, as time has passed, the company has now made the transition to a “capped-profit” organization. In turn, keeping ownership of their infrastructure. The AI firm states the transition was essential to allow them to increase their investments and cover the computing costs due to ChatGPT’s popularity. Although ChatGPT isn’t open source, the basis of its outputs is open knowledge. Meaning it is based on content and information found on the internet, that could be uploaded by any user. This in turn demonstrates how the platform is essentially contributing to the widespread of shared knowledge.

Open-source AI tools

Sadly, ChatGPT is a closed-source software, meaning the source code is not accessible by any user. If you’re someone who enjoys the nature of open-source software and is looking for a platform similar to ChatGPT that provides this service, then we’ve got you covered. Here are a number of open-source AI tools that you can use instead of ChatGPT.

GPT-J

An open-source alternative to OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model. The model contains 6 billion paraments and was released by EleutherAI in 2021.

GPT-NeoX

Another open-source language model was released by EleutherAI. This model is much larger than GPT-J and contains 20 billion parameters.

Disadvantages of using open-source software

By releasing open-source software, developers are essentially allowing their work to be open to constructive criticism. The nature of the open-source community means that users can share knowledge and develop software, creating a shared space and learning from each other. However, there are still some apparent drawbacks to this kind of software. The list below outlines some of the disadvantages when addressing open-source software.

  • Copyright – Anyone can develop open-source software. Which means it is possible that they could copy from third-party sources. This can be a problem when considering copyright issues, as companies leveraging the specific open-source software could be accused of copyright infringement.
  • Security – Due to the fact that any user can access open-source software, there are apparent risks when it comes to security. Contributors are usually developers who are not experts in security. They contribute to the functionality of the platform and may not consider potential security risks. Meaning that open-source software could be in danger of exploitation by cybercriminals.
  • Vulnerability – If source code is available to anyone, then anyone can find vulnerabilities in the code and exploit it. Systems could potentially be damaged, or sensitive information could be extracted.

Final thoughts

Open source software means any user can access the source code of said software for free and modify and change the code, ultimately editing the design of the platform. Unfortunately, this feature is not used in the ChatGPT model. Meaning users can’t access the source code and develop it accordingly. However, there are a number of similar platforms out there that incorporate an open source. If using an open-source AI tool is something that you’re interested in, then check out one of the open-source ChatGPT alternatives listed above.

Funmi joined PC Guide in November 2022, and was a driving force for the site's ChatGPT coverage. She has a wide knowledge of AI apps, gaming and consumer technology.