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Elon Musk To Co-Chair Nonprofit To Equalize AI Research

Without the imperative to make money, OpenAI hopes to advance artificial intelligence "in a way most likely to benefit humanity as a whole."

Elon Musk also currently helms SpaceX and Tesla Motors. (AP Photo)
Elon Musk also currently helms SpaceX and Tesla Motors. (AP Photo)

Elon Musk is now digging his hands into a new segment of industry: artificial intelligence.

Along with fellow co-chair Sam Altman and sponsors like Pay-Pal co-founder Peter Thiel, LinkedIn’s co-founder Reid Hoffman and Amazon Web Services, Musk last week launched OpenAI, a nonprofit devoted to artificial intelligence research.

With a starting fund of $1 billion ponied up by private investors, OpenAI says their 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.”

The group is still hiring engineers and scientists from a variety of backgrounds but with a special interest in deep learning. Per their goal, OpenAI will share the results of their research through blog posts, open-source projects, tutorials and public talks and collaborate with other research institutions.

In the past, Musk has openly expressed his concern for the future of artificially intelligent robots, even last year tweeting “Hope we’re not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence. Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable.”

Although it might seem like a concern from the silver screen, the capacity of artificial intelligence to continuously, exponentially learn and improve itself is a very real fact. OpenAI, it seems, is stepping in to add a dose of morality — or at least financial indifference — to the field of research largely dominated by corporate endeavors.

“Because of AI's surprising history, it's hard to predict when human-level AI might come within reach. When it does, it'll be important to have a leading research institution which can prioritize a good outcome for all over its own self-interest,” OpenAI’s website says. “We believe the outcome of this venture is uncertain and the work is difficult, but we believe the goal and the structure is right.”

Will OpenAI steer the development of artificial intelligence in a more moral direction? Comment below or tweet @MNetKatie.

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