EleutherAI Is Building an Open-Source GPT-3

They’re what OpenAI should’ve been — open and non-profit

Alberto Romero
6 min readApr 9, 2022


Alina Constantin / Better Images of AI / Handmade A.I / CC-BY 4.0

EleutherAI will show OpenAI how to keep a promise.

The early ideas behind OpenAI were extremely attractive. People were excited about the prospects of AGI and their commitment to open-source software untied from commercial interests. That was OpenAI, a non-profit AI institute that would lead the way towards safe, aligned, and unconditionally beneficial AGI.

However, soon after getting into language models, they realized they’d need a lot of money to back up their ambitions. With Sam Altman — a well-connected Silicon Valley entrepreneur — as CEO, it wouldn’t be hard to find enough funding. In 2019, they partnered with Microsoft for $1 billion. The deal would come at the cost of some of their early promises. OpenAI wasn’t a non-profit anymore. From then on, it was subjected to the commercial interests of Microsoft.

With that amount of sweet cash, they financed GPT-3, Codex, and DALL·E. Now, Microsoft holds an exclusive license to integrate these models into its products. The renewed business model generated controversy among followers and employees alike. Was OpenAI going back on its mission?

Not long after, Connor Leahy and Leo Gao decided they’d show OpenAI how it’s possible to build a system like GPT-3 without turning into “the bad guy.” And without $1 billion in funding from a Big Tech.

EleutherAI: Building an open-source GPT-3

EleutherAI was born in July 2020 as a tribute to freedom — eleutheria means liberty in Ancient Greek — and as a defense of the open-source movement.

And also to give OpenAI a lesson.

Leahy and Gao didn’t like what the company had turned into and decided to take action. They wanted to give them a “run for their money.” They founded an open-source non-profit community to build a safe path towards aligned AGI. No financial ties to external interests meant no need to shift away from promises to benefit a shareholder.

Almost two years later they’ve taken several worthwhile steps towards their ultimate goal: Building an open-source GPT-3.



Alberto Romero

AI & Tech | Analyst at CambrianAI | Weekly AI Newsletter: https://thealgorithmicbridge.substack.com/ | Contact: alber.romgar@gmail.com