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Elon Musk: ‘I am the Reason Open AI Exists’

Elon Musk Open AI
“It does seem weird that something can be a non-profit, open source and somehow transform itself into a for-profit, closed source,” Musk said about Open AI. Public Domain

Elon Musk said on Tuesday he is “the reason that Open AI exists,” citing his past investment in the entity with his contribution of around $50 million.

“I came up with the name,” Musk told CNBC. He also said he was instrumental in recruiting key scientists and engineers at the company.

Musk was an early investor in OpenAI — he and the startup’s current CEO, Sam Altman, were two of the cofounders back in 2015.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO left OpenAI’s board in 2018 — a year before it became a “capped-profit” company — and is now a vocal critic of the startup.

In February, Musk slammed OpenAI for becoming a “maximum profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft,” which was not what he “intended at all.”

“It does seem weird that something can be a non-profit, open source and somehow transform itself into a for-profit, closed source,” he told CNBC.

“This would be like, let’s say you found an organization to save the Amazon rainforest, and instead you become a lumber company, and chop down the forest, and sell it for money.”

Elon Musk questions the relationship between Open AI and Microsoft

Microsoft invested $1 billion into OpenAI in 2019. It followed up with a “multibillion-dollar” investment in January 2023. The latest investment amount wasn’t publicly disclosed, but Semafor reported it was about $10 billion.

Musk told CNBC Microsoft could “cut off OpenAI” at any point and has a lot of control over the startup.

“I also think it’s important to understand when push comes to shove — let’s say they create some digital super-intelligence, almost god-like intelligence, who’s in control? What is exactly the relationship between OpenAI and Microsoft?”

Musk also suggested that OpenAI didn’t place sufficient emphasis on safe AI development. Musk was a signatory to a March open letter asking for a pause in advanced AI development while safeguards were established, but told Faber that he knew the letter was unlikely to do anything.

But Musk added that signing the letter warning of the dangers of AI was something he wanted to do “for the record.”

Despite his public stance, Musk is setting up his own generative AI company called X.AI, the Financial Times reported on April 14.

Open AI boss warns ‘AI can go quite wrong’

Open AI CEO Sam Altman warned on Tuesday the US Congress that artificial intelligence developments can go quite wrong and called on the government to regulate the sector.

“If this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong, and we want to work with the government to prevent that from happening,” said Altman.

When pressed on his worst fear about AI, Altman was frank about the risks of his work.

“My worst fears are that we—the field, the technology, the industry—cause significant harm to the world. I think that can happen in a lot of different ways,” Altman said.

He did not elaborate, but warnings from critics range from the spread of misinformation and bias to bringing about the complete destruction of biological life.

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