Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is a vocal critic of OpenAI, the company he co-founded that is behind the popular artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot ChatGPT.
Musk frequently shares his thoughts on the organization’s misguided mission and the dangers of ChatGPT and unrestricted AI. In 2018, reports emerged that Musk thought the group’s advancements were falling behind Google, and he wanted to take control of the organization. His plan met with resistance from CEO Sam Altman and others leading OpenAI.
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In November, OpenAI launched the first version of ChatGPT. Its popularity and power prompted Musk to restrict it from using Twitter’s database and declare, “OpenAI was started as open-source and nonprofit. Neither is still true.”
In early 2023, ChatGPT became a viral sensation, especially after the release of the improved ChatGPT-4. The chatbot can create code, recognize images and provide relevant information based on the images, compose songs and perform a range of other complex tasks.
Musk notes the company’s shift from a nonprofit organization created as an open-source platform “has become a closed-source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft.”
But the criticisms are largely valid. Musk donated $100 million to the company to get it started. The sum would likely be worth billions now if taking in exchange for equity in the company. Instead, he received nothing and OpenAI is now a thriving for-profit company.
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Musk’s comment reflects Microsoft Corp.’s multibillion-dollar investment to integrate OpenAI with the Bing search engine and form a tight partnership between the two companies. Musk expressed concern when Microsoft announced layoffs in its AI ethics group last year. But many people noted that after acquiring Twitter Inc., Musk slashed nearly all employees working in an ethics capacity at the company.
Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI will enable the company to continue advancing ChatGPT, which likely will further fuel Musk’s discomfort and desire to create an alternative AI platform. The money also enabled OpenAI to create its own investment arm — the OpenAI Startup Fund, a venture fund investing in small firms pursuing AI and other technological innovations.
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Warnings And Calls For Regulation
Despite his involvement in the early stages of OpenAI and ChatGPT and his desire to create a better AI platform, Musk has also said AI is the “greatest threat to humanity.” Startups in the AI space are becoming incredibly good. The release of OpenAI’s incredibly ChatGPT-4 has quickly went viral. And startups like RAD AI already having built a marketing program built to understand emotion, and currently raising over $3.2 million from retail investors to scale the platform.
Musk frequently calls for government regulation for AI because of its rapid advancement and the potential risks of allowing the technology to move beyond control.
In mid-March, Musk tweeted another warning in response to ChatGPT’s prowess: “What will be left for us humans to do? We better get a move on with Neuralink!”
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Neuralink is Musk’s neural implant firm that recently announced it is moving forward with human trials. The secretive company aims to implant devices in humans that it contends will one day be able to record thoughts and transmit them to a phone or computer.
Neuralink is under considerable scrutiny for its claims and practices. In December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inspector general opened investigations into Neuralink’s possible cruelty to animals, as the company tests its device on monkeys and pigs.
OpenAI’s Altman also warns about the dangers of unregulated AI, even though his company offers the latest AI platform with extraordinary capabilities with ChatGPT-4.
“There will be other people who don’t put some of the safety limits that we put on,” Altman said. “Society, I think, has a limited amount of time to figure out how to react to that, how to regulate that, how to handle it.”
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