THE BASIS POINT

Musk’s AI firm totally won’t threaten humanity and fuel political misinformation, right?

 
 

Big AI firms like OpenAI pose a threat to humanity and society, will take jobs, flood world with misinformation, and must be slowed down. So said a campaign Elon Musk led 2 weeks ago.

Then 2 days ago, Musk launched an AI company to compete with OpenAI, a firm he co-founded and WSJ reports he was pushed out of.

Mr. Musk co-founded OpenAI eight years ago but left the company in early 2018 after losing a power struggle to its current chief executive, Sam Altman, the Wall Street Journal reported. Mr. Musk has complained that ChatGPT is politically biased and told associates that he wants to create AI models that are more truth-seeking, though he hasn’t publicly stated what that would mean.

A different WSJ report said this about Musk’s behavior at an all-company meeting during which he said he was leaving OpenAI to pursue AI ideas using Tesla:

A young researcher questioned whether Mr. Musk had thought through the safety implications, the former employees said. Mr. Musk grew visibly frustrated and called the intern a “jackass,” leaving employees stunned, they said. It was the last time many of them would see Mr. Musk in person.

As for OpenAI’s safety standards, CEO Sam Altman has it set up with a nonprofit parent and also accepted $1 billion from Microsoft.

Many have trouble reconciling these 2 things.

Is it commercial or in service of societal safety?

Here are a couple of WSJ notes that help answer:

OpenAI has set profit caps for investors, with any returns beyond certain levels—from seven to 100 times what they put in, depending on how early they invested—flowing to the nonprofit parent, according to investor documents. OpenAI and Microsoft also created a joint safety board, which includes Mr. Altman and Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott, that has the power to roll back Microsoft and OpenAI product releases if they are deemed too dangerous.

After Microsoft’s initial investment is paid back, it would capture 49% of OpenAI’s profits until the profit cap, up from 21% under prior arrangements, the documents show. OpenAI Inc., the nonprofit parent, would get the rest.

As for Altman’s take on news of Musk’s new AI venture, he only offered one word:

Musk has complained ChatGPT is politically biased and told associates that he wants to create AI models that are more truth-seeking.

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