Elon Musk and Sam Altman are backing a new non-profit artificial intelligence research company called OpenAI.
“Our goal is to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return,” OpenAI said in a recent blog entry.
Adding: “Since our research is free from financial obligations, we can better focus on a positive human impact. We believe AI should be an extension of individual human wills and, in the spirit of liberty, as broadly and evenly distributed as is possible safely.
“The outcome of this venture is uncertain and the work is difficult, but we believe the goal and the structure are right. We hope this is what matters most to the best in the field.”
The OpenAI logo.
The idea is for OpenAI research to be shared, the company said – including any potential patents. Most AI development and research is currently carried out at large tech companies, namely Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, as well as a few universities. However, most of the work done there is kept secret and not shared with others, which may be holding back innovation in the field.
The OpenAI team said: “We’re hoping to grow OpenAI into such an institution. As a non-profit, our aim is to build value for everyone rather than shareholders.
“Researchers will be strongly encouraged to publish their work, whether as papers, blog posts, or code, and our patents (if any) will be shared with the world. We’ll freely collaborate with others across many institutions and expect to work with companies to research and deploy new technologies.”
OpenAI has already secured $1 billion in funding, but only expects to spend a “tiny fraction” of the that amount over the next few years.
OpenAI is receiving support from some of the most prominent names in the technology industry.
Donors include Altman, Musk, as well as other prominent figures in the industry, such as Jessica Livingston (co-founder of Y Combinator) and Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal and venture capitalist).
Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Infosys also helped fund the project.
Pieter Abbeel, Yoshua Bengio, Alan Kay, Sergey Levine, and Vishal Sikka are advisors to the group, while its co-chairs are Altman and Musk.
Ilya Sutskever, a former research scientist at Google, is the company’s research director and its chief technology officer is Greg Brockman.