The Intersection of Open Source Software and Artificial General Intelligence


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 11, 2023

4 min read


The Intersection of Open Source Software and Artificial General Intelligence


In this article, we explore two seemingly unrelated topics - open source software and the emergence of artificial general intelligence (AGI). While they may appear distinct, there are interesting connections between the two. We delve into the motivations behind companies investing in open source software, the concept of complements in the marketplace, and the potential implications of AGI development.

Open Source Software as a Business Strategy:

Contrary to popular belief, many companies invest in open source software not solely due to a belief in freedom, but because it aligns with their business strategies. By developing open source software, companies can create complements to their existing products, thereby increasing demand and potentially raising prices. For example, when computer prices decrease, the demand for operating systems rises, translating into higher prices for these systems.

Understanding Total Cost of Ownership:

Economists consider total cost of ownership, which includes intangible factors like setup time and the need for reeducation, when evaluating the price of a product. Advocates of free-as-in-beer open source software argue that it exempts them from economic rules because of its zero cost. However, the countless hours required to revise existing device drivers come at the expense of other developments. This limitation can hinder the marketability of open source software if it lacks support for existing hardware.

Competition for Volunteer Programming Talent:

Open source projects compete for a finite pool of volunteer programming talent. Only the most attractive and exciting projects tend to attract more volunteers than they can effectively utilize. As a result, large companies with a responsibility to maximize shareholder value invest substantial resources in supporting open source software. This phenomenon aligns with the principle of complements, as lowering the price of complements benefits a company's strategic interests.

Commoditization of Products:

Companies often strive to commoditize their complements to increase demand and profitability. IBM's approach to designing the PC architecture and licensing PC-DOS to multiple manufacturers exemplifies this strategy. By creating a standardized platform and operating system, IBM commoditized the add-in market and the PC industry as a whole. However, the commoditization of hardware has its limitations, as evidenced by Microsoft's challenges in reducing the cost of producing Xbox consoles.

AGI and the Evolution of Technology:

The emergence of AGI presents both potential and challenges. Fine-tuned models like GPT-3.5 demonstrate impressive zero-shot text generation capabilities, making them suitable for brainstorming, drafting, and creative presentations. However, these models still struggle with accurate information retrieval and generating correct code. The debate arises regarding the extent to which AGI-like models can replace search engines like Google, as they provide more direct and readable answers but may lack accuracy and sourcing.

The Link between Open Source Software and AGI:

The birth of AGI is closely tied to advancements in reinforcement learning through human feedback. This rapid progress highlights the potential for AGI development, which may have far-reaching implications. It is essential to consider how AGI could impact the open source software ecosystem and vice versa. Companies investing in AGI may leverage open source strategies to commoditize certain aspects of technology and drive further progress.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace the power of open source software: Companies can benefit from investing in open source projects strategically. By contributing to the development of complementary software, they can increase demand for their products and potentially raise prices.
  • 2. Balance creativity and precision: Leveraging AGI-like models with long-term memory and creative text generation capabilities can be valuable in brainstorming, drafting, and presenting information. However, it's crucial to acknowledge their limitations and supplement them with external assets for accuracy when necessary.
  • 3. Monitor the evolution of AGI: As AGI continues to advance, it is essential to keep a close eye on its development and potential implications for various industries. Understanding the potential intersection between AGI and open source software can help companies adapt and leverage emerging technologies effectively.


Open source software and the emergence of AGI may seem unrelated at first glance, but a deeper analysis reveals their interconnectedness. The motivation behind companies investing in open source aligns with the concept of complements in the marketplace. Similarly, AGI development has the potential to impact open source strategies and commoditize certain aspects of technology. By understanding these connections, businesses can navigate the evolving landscape of technology and leverage open source software and AGI to their advantage.

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