Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales attacks Elon Musk’s tech empire by targeting the billionaire’s social network
Speaking at the opening night of the controversial Web Summit in Lisbon, when asked about large language models (LLMs) using Wikipedia data to feed chatbots like ChatGPT, Wales expressed satisfaction with the idea. That they are leveraging the content of his site rather than Musk’s platform. , ,
He quipped: “I’m very glad they (LLMs) are reading Wikipedia and not just Elon Musk’s Twitter; that’s not really a great source of truth.” The remarks drew applause from the crowd at Europe’s biggest tech conference, which suffered an exodus of sponsors after its co-founder indirectly accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza.
Taking the opportunity for a light-hearted joke, Wells revealed: “I told them backstage I’d take a jab at Elon. It’s always a crowd pleaser.”
When questioned about Musk’s own LLM, ‘Grok’, Wells feigned ignorance and replied: “I haven’t even heard of it.”
Musk vs Wikipedia ongoing battle.
The tirade was the latest in a series of disputes between the world’s richest man and the co-founder of Wikipedia.
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The exchange followed a May incident in which Wells criticized Musk for acquiescing to Turkish censorship requests to silence critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Twitter.
In response, Musk defended his actions, shutting down X entirely or limiting access to specific tweets.
Wales opposed Musk’s stance, highlighting Wikipedia’s commitment to principles by opposing Turkish censorship through a legal fight. The Turkish telecoms watchdog had blocked Wikipedia in the country for more than two years, citing laws allowing it to ban sites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.
Wales tips ChatGPT to evolve like eBay
In addition to poking fun at Musk, Wales also shared insights into the evolution of technology, drawing parallels with historical instances of alarmism that plagued the early days of tech giant eBay.
“One of the things that we’ve seen over and over and over again, is a new technology comes out and there’s a really easy lazy alarmism that can happen,” Wales said.
“I remember in the early days of eBay, it was like, ‘Oh, no, somebody’s selling a gun on eBay. Oh, no, somebody’s selling their baby on eBay.’ Then after a while, we figured out you can list whatever you want on eBay, but people will report it, and it gets taken down. It’s actually not that exciting.
“Now when we look at the emergence of ChatGPT, clearly, it’s not good enough for a great many purposes. It’s an amazing thing to play with, but when you really start to use it, what initially seems fantastic you realize is pretty bad.
“I think it will continue to get better. But, you know, I think we’re still a long way from it being able to be a reliable source.”