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Elon Musk About OpenAI: ‘It Wouldn’t Exist Without Me’

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“I am the catalyst behind OpenAI’s existence,” stated Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and Twitter, during a CNBC interview on Tuesday.

When asked about his investment in ChatGPT’s creator, Musk replied, “I can’t give you the exact figure, but it’s around $50 million.”

He further added, “Without my involvement, it simply wouldn’t exist.”

In December 2015, Elon Musk co-founded OpenAI alongside Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, John Schulman, and Wojciech Zaremba.

Musk emphasized his significant role in recruiting key scientists and engineers, particularly highlighting Ilya Sutskever’s contribution. According to Musk, Sutskever’s involvement was pivotal in OpenAI’s ultimate success.

Nearly seven years later, in November 2022, OpenAI introduced the initial version of its revolutionary chatbot, ChatGPT, which has since garnered global attention.

Elon Musk explained that the name “OpenAI” reflects the concept of open-source software. Open-source principles advocate for the unrestricted availability, redistribution, and modification of program or platform source code.

In contrast, Musk criticized Google as a closed-source, profit-driven corporation, stating, “The profit motive can potentially pose risks.”

Musk revealed engaging in lengthy discussions with Google co-founder Larry Page regarding artificial intelligence.

“I consistently urged him to be cautious about the dangers of AI,” Musk stated. “He displayed little concern about AI’s nature and seemed rather casual about it.”

In 2014, Google acquired DeepMind Technologies, a UK-based artificial intelligence research lab, for $500 million.

Although competing with Google initially appeared insurmountable, Musk expressed skepticism about OpenAI’s shift toward a for-profit, closed-source model similar to Google’s.

“It seems peculiar that something can start as a nonprofit, open-source entity and eventually transform into a closed-source, for-profit organization,” Musk commented, drawing parallels to an environmental group evolving into a logging company.

Musk also voiced apprehension regarding the relationship between OpenAI and software giant Microsoft, which has invested $13 billion in the company since 2019.

“I am concerned that Microsoft may exert more control than the OpenAI leadership realizes,” Musk shared, emphasizing that Microsoft possesses the rights and necessary software to operate the inference system, granting them substantial control over OpenAI.

Describing artificial intelligence as a double-edged sword, Musk expressed optimism about its potential to significantly enhance life and usher in an era of abundance.

“However, there is a slim chance it could go wrong and jeopardize humanity,” he cautioned, acknowledging that the probability is small but not nonexistent.

In March, Musk, along with prominent figures in the tech community, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, signed an open letter advocating for a six-month moratorium on AI development following the launch of OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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