As more and more companies like Facebook and Google race to develop their own flavor of AI (artificial intelligence), a new altruistic challenger has appeared. The OpenAI initiative is a new non-profit with financial support from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Amazon Web Services, Sal Altman, Jessica Livingston and others. It's goal is to work on AI without being beholden to the whims of a corporation or any single person. In fact, it encourages all research to be shared and will open all (if any) patents.
In addition to sharing its research with the world, OpenAI is also concerned with the ramifications of the emerging technology, "it's hard to fathom how much human-level AI could benefit society, and it's equally hard to imagine how much it could damage society if built or used incorrectly," it states on its site.
Altman told Medium's Backchannel, "we think the best way AI can develop is if it's about individual empowerment and making humans better."
The initiative's team will include researcher and machine learning expert Ilya Sutskever and former Stripe CTO, Greg Brockman. It will be co-chaired by Elon Musk and Sam Altman with donations from Musk, Altman, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Livingston and others totaling $1 billion. Just don't expect super-smart computers or robots anytime soon. The research is expected to take decades according to Altman.
Musk, while cautious, does believe in the power of AI for the masses, "I think the best defense against the misuse of AI is to empower as many people as possible to have AI. If everyone has AI powers, then there's not any one person or a small set of individuals who can have AI superpower."
This article by Roberto Baldwin originally ran on Engadget, the definitive guide to this connected life.