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Meen Jan, the open-source ChatGPT alternative that runs on your computer

Published Jan 19th, 2024 7:26PM EST
Jan AI runnig on a computer.
Image: Jan

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Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S24 earlier this week, its first flagship phone with built-in Galaxy AI. However, most of the AI features will require an internet connection to work. Also, most of them will require a Samsung account. ChatGPT works similarly, and so does Google Bard or Microsoft Copilot. 

What I’m getting at is that generative AI still has a few problems, no matter how exciting it might be. It’s not just hallucinations or the AI’s ability to produce incorrect answers to prompts. AI programs like ChatGPT collect a lot of user data, and privacy remains a big issue that tech companies must fix before personal AI experiences become possible. 

You can’t trust AI and put it to good use to serve your needs if the information you feed it will eventually end up on a server, helping that AI evolve. 

I did show you how easy it is to stop data collection on ChatGPT. And Samsung says that Galaxy AI doesn’t collect user data for AI training. But the best way to handle your privacy is to run AI on your devices. 

It’s easier said than done, of course. But there is a team out there working on such a project: open-source AI that works on any computer right now. Meet Jan, the free ChatGPT AI alternative you can install on your Mac, Windows, or Linux PC.

Most AI experiences are available for free, but you pay with your data. That’s the trade-off. Then, there are premium versions, including ChatGPT Plus, that offer better AI models. But you’d still contribute to the training of AI unless you take steps to opt out. Galaxy AI might not collect data, and you don’t have to pay for it until late 2025. But you have to buy a Galaxy S24 to get it.

Customizing the parametrs of Jan AI.
Customizing the parameters of Jan AI. Image source: Jan

You don’t have to pay anything for Jan. You can grab the files, install the AI on your Mac, Windows, and Linux PC, and start using it. It’s available for free on GitHub. Once you install it, it won’t beam your data over to the company’s servers. Jan also works offline, so you don’t need an internet connection. 

From the looks of it, you might be able to install various large language models to work for you via Jan. 

If it sounds too good to be true, it’s because it might be. Jan is still in its early days. It might be free and open-source, but it might not work as easily as ChatGPT. And if you’re not familiar or comfortable with installing such software, then your AI experience might have to suffer. 

Also, I’ll note that you have two Jan versions to choose from, the Stable one and the Experimental one. The former is probably the best for most people. The latter will get you all the latest features and the bugs. 

Maybe you should be an AI enthusiast or business to try it rather than a regular consumer. Those are the company’s ideal customers, by the way. 

Future Jan AI mobile app.
Future Jan AI mobile app. Image source: Jan

But there is good news in all of this. There are people out there looking to create full open-source ChatGPT alternatives. Or AI that’s not for profit. And they seem determined to keep updating and improving Jan.

You can try Jan along the way and see if it can meet your needs like ChatGPT, Google Bard, or Microsoft Copilot does. 

I will say that I haven’t installed Jan myself, but the project sounds intriguing. In addition to the GitHub above, you should also check out the company’s website at this link for more information about it.

Finally, a mobile app is supposedly coming too, which sounds even better than Jan for desktop. However, it’s unclear how this ChatGPT alternative would work. 

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.