AI Rewind: OpenAI Continues to Dominate Headlines as it Dominates AI

Will OpenAI Become our Skynet

The machines rose from the ashes of the nuclear fire. Their war to exterminate mankind had raged for decades, but the final battle would not be fought in the future. It would be fought here, in our present.

The opening monologue from The Terminator

I have a positive outlook on the weekly advancements being made in GenAI. However, I am a bit apprehensive about any single company having a dominating position in the industry, as is the case with OpenAI. It brings to mind the image of Skynet from The Terminator. I try to maintain a balance in my newsletter and not let it be dominated by OpenAI news, but it is difficult to avoid. So, in this week's edition of "OpenAI Rewind," I have covered the latest news related to OpenAI.

OpenAI continues to dominate the news this week, unveiling the private emails between Elon Musk and the OpenAI board to help illuminate their current conflict. In the post, OpenAI states:

The mission of OpenAI is to ensure AGI benefits all of humanity, which means both building safe and beneficial AGI and helping create broadly distributed benefits. We are now sharing what we've learned about achieving our mission, and some facts about our relationship with Elon. We intend to move to dismiss all of Elon’s claims.

During the early stages of OpenAI, the team underestimated the project's magnitude. It was like trying to build a huge LEGO castle without enough pieces. To secure the necessary resources, Musk suggested aiming for a $1 billion funding target, which was much higher than the initial estimate of $100 million. Musk even pledged to cover any funding shortfall.

As the project progressed, it became apparent that achieving AI would demand an extraordinary amount of computational power and financial resources—billions of dollars annually. To meet this need, OpenAI contemplated establishing a profit-generating arm.

Musk proposed integration with his automotive company, Tesla, but reaching a consensus proved challenging. He sought significant control, which conflicted with OpenAI’s ethos of universally beneficial AI. Eventually, Musk pursued AI development independently within Tesla, parting ways with OpenAI.

The impasse led to Musk's departure and the birth of a for-profit arm under OpenAI, a decision that did not lightly brush aside the founding principles. Instead, it was a strategic pivot designed to marshal the vast resources AGI development necessitated while safeguarding the mission to democratize AI's benefits.

One new development at OpenAI is an up-leveling of their board to hopefully provide better guidance and avoid the disasters of last fall. OpenAI has announced the addition of three new directors to its Board. The new members are Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Nicole Seligman, former EVP and General Counsel at Sony Corporation; and Fidji Simo, CEO and Chair of Instacart. This move is complemented by the return of Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, to the Board.

My takeaway is that OpenAI is doing important work, but when the stakes are too high to have one company run away with the artificial intelligence industry. If they get to AGI first they will have an advantage that may make it impossible for other companies to compete with.

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