In a recent interview on CNBCElon Musk Tesla The founder, CEO and billionaire entrepreneur said he invested $50 million in OpenAI and is ultimately the company’s raison d’être.
If you haven’t heard of OpenAI, you may have heard of the company’s flagship product, ChatGPT, a generative AI tool that can generate a wide range of content, including conversations that are strikingly subtle and mimic natural human behavior.
Musk claims he came up with the name OpenAI and hired key engineers, but ultimately ended up leaving the company in 2018 due to conflicts of interest with his work at Tesla. There were also reports that Musk didn’t like the direction the company was going. Here are two of the glaring concerns Musk now has with OpenAI.
1. Safety is not enough of a priority
One of Musk’s primary concerns about OpenAI and its AI product ChatGPT is that the company has not prioritized the safe development of the technology.
There are many reasons why people are concerned about generative AI technology. First, there is the real question of what firewalls are in place to prevent ChatGPT from producing malicious content that is used to commit fraud, collecting data, and generating code that can be used by hackers or people with bad intentions. The amazing capabilities of ChatGPT are also expected to automate many jobs, which could reach 300 million, according to economists at Goldman Sachs.
Musk, along with several other technology leaders, signed an open letter written by the Future of Life Institute calling for a pause on technology like ChatGPT that can mimic human behavior and intelligence. The letter states: “Contemporary AI systems are now competitive with humans in public tasks, and we have to ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our media channels with propaganda and lies?”
Musk also claimed it Microsoft, an investor in the company, has significant control over OpenAI. According to Musk, the company owns the rights to all software and model weights, which he believes is a real problem, especially if ChatGPT creates some kind of digital superintelligence technology.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella denied Musk’s assertions and said Microsoft had a non-controlling interest.
2. The questionable “maximum profit” model
OpenAI initially started out as a non-profit organization but in 2019 transitioned into a “limited earnings” company, where returns for investors are determined after a certain point. In the case of OpenAI, returns are limited to 100x. Revenues in excess of this amount are sent to the non-profit arm of the company for management.
When OpenAI initially took this step in 2019, it said in a blog post:
We will need to invest billions of dollars in the coming years in large-scale cloud computing, attracting and retaining talent, and building artificially intelligent supercomputers. We want to increase our ability to raise capital while still serving our mission, and there is no pre-existing legal structure that we know of that strikes the right balance.
Musk basically believes this is disingenuous and not in keeping with the spirit of the company’s initial mission when it was first formed as a nonprofit. If you can start as a nonprofit and then take intellectual property and turn it into a for-profit organization and make money off of it, why doesn’t everyone do it, Musk argues, adding that he’s not even sure it’s legal.
Recently, OpenAI closed a new funding round from some of the biggest names in venture capital, which valued the company at between $27 billion and $29 billion.
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