Is OpenAI Behind the Mysterious Debut of GPT-2, or Not?

Why Trust Techopedia

  • A mysterious and advanced Large Language Model dubbed "GPT-2" popped into existence this week - and then vanished.
  • Speculation arises over its origin, with many pointing fingers at OpenAI due to circumstantial evidence and cryptic tweets from OpenAI staff.
  • Despite the mystery, GPT-2 overshadowed Meta's Llama 3, redirecting attention to OpenAI - a pattern we have seen before.
  • Whether a strategic move by OpenAI or an independent endeavor, GPT-2 as an AI, from its brief appearance, looks as capable as current models.

For the past few weeks, Llama 3 has been capturing all the attention of artificial intelligence (AI) enthusuasts.

But as we mentioned last week, whenever a contender to the crown threatens OpenAI’s dominance, the ChatGPT creator often follows competitors’ big releases by their competitors with their own releases to regain momentum.

Perhaps that is why a mysterious, advanced model, referred to as “GPT-2” and tied to OpenAI, suddenly appeared in the wild, blew those who tried it away, and then vanished just as quickly.

This “mysterious” new GPT-2 large language model (LLM) emerged on chatbot benchmark site, and users were quick to identify it as equal to the current crop of AI models.

What really got people talking was the fact that no one knew who produced it. This led to many users suggesting that OpenAI had released the chatbot as a preview of GPT-5.

Even OpenAI founder and CEO Sam Altman added fuel to the fire by cryptically tweeting “I do have a soft spot for gpt2.”

As did OpenAI staff member Steven Heidel:

The chatbot generated so much interest that was forced to temporarily shut it down due to an “unexpectedly high traffic & capacity limit.”


While the mystery of who released GPT-2 is yet to unravel, what is clear is that release has somewhat stolen Llama 3’s thunder and has people talking about OpenAI again.

GPT-2: Who’s Behind the Curtain?

So who is the mysterious figure behind the curtain? Based on the information we have available, there’s no way to know for sure.

Michal Oglodek, CTO and co-founder of AI-powered communications platform, told Techopedia:

“It’s hard to say definitively who’s behind ‘GPT-2 chatbot,’ but the fact that it appeared on LMSYS Chatbot Arena suggests it could be a collaboration with researchers or developers outside of the major AI companies.


“Whether it’s a solo endeavor or a sneak peek from a big player like OpenAI, it’s clear that the boundaries of AI development are constantly being pushed.”

Either way, GPT-2 has been a win for OpenAI due to the simple fact that it has taken momentum away from Meta and the open-source Llama 3.

We’ve already seen OpenAI trying to follow up the release of Llama 3 with product updates such as expanding its enterprise API offering and the release of a new feature called Memory, which enables ChatGPT to remember the preferences of Plus subscribers.

It’s worth noting that Sam Altman also made some interesting comments at a talk for Stanford University this week, where he downplayed the capabilities of GPT-4, saying “GPT-4 is the dumbest model any of you will ever have to use again.”

He also spoke about the organization’s willingness and ability to invest in AI, stating “I don’t care if we burn $50 billion a year, we’re building Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and it’s going to be worth it.”

Reactions to GPT-2 So Far

AI Breakfast speculated to 167,000+ followers on X, saying: “Most likely explanation for GPT-2 chatbot: OpenAI has been working on a more efficient method for fine-tuning language models, and they managed to get GPT-2, a 1.5B parameter model, to perform pretty damn close to GPT-4, which is an order of magnitude larger and more costly to train/run.”

Brian Roemmele, a prompt engine and editor of, also shared some positive feedback on the model. “I have been testing GPT-2 chatbot for a few days. Today it seems to have gotten much more attention.

“It has surpassed all of our ChatGPT benchmarks.”

Harrison Kinsley, founder of, was similarly impressed, posting “I have found gpt-2 chatbot to so far be exceptional.”

The Bottom Line

GPT-2 has turned a lot of heads and got a lot of people talking. For now, the creators remain a mystery but in any case, it got people hyped up about OpenAI and GPT-5 again.

Is OpenAI behind GPT-2? Or is the largest player in AI just admiring from afar? Is GPT-2, as some commentators speculate, not so much an evolution of OpenAI’s current models, but a different kind of model the company is trying out?

We expect it to appear in the wild again, this time with more information and more time for testing.

If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s that sometimes a little bit of drama is as important for increasing hype than simply enhancing performance.

Related Terms

Related Article