The Importance of OpenAI

Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Peter Thiel, Ried Hoffman and others have just launched a new non-profit with over $1 billion in funding, called OpenAI, that is dedicated to Artificial Intelligence research.

Steven Levy has a short interview on the launch of OpenAI with the following snippet that I think is extremely important:

I want to return to the idea that by sharing AI, we might not suffer the worst of its negative consequences. Isn’t there a risk that by making it more available, you’ll be increasing the potential dangers?

Altman: I wish I could count the hours that I have spent with Elon debating this topic and with others as well and I am still not a hundred percent certain. You can never be a hundred percent certain, right? But play out the different scenarios. Security through secrecy on technology has just not worked very often. If only one person gets to have it, how do you decide if that should be Google or the U.S. government or the Chinese government or ISIS or who? There are lots of bad humans in the world and yet humanity has continued to thrive. However, what would happen if one of those humans were a billion times more powerful than another human?

Musk: 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.

Most people think of AI as something that happens OUT THERE, away from us. Instead, it must happen INSIDE – close to us.

Encountering AI is like encountering a new Lion or beast out in the wild. We must observe, interact, understand and co-evolve with it.

The incentives are too great for AI not to grow, with or without us. I hope you’re paying attention.


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