OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research group created by Silicon Valley investors as a non-profit, will now be seeking "capped" profit, according to a blog post on the OpenAI website published Monday. SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, startup accelerator Y Combinator president Sam Altman, and several other Silicon Valley figures launched OpenAI in late 2015 with $1 billion in seed funding and the stated goal of ensuring that AI "benefits all of humanity." Musk stepped down from OpenAI in February 2018. Since its founding, the group has conducted research with reinforcement learning, robotics, and language. According to OpenAI, the original nonprofit entity will own a limited partnership called OpenAI LP that's designed to give a "capped return" to investors and employees and funnel excess funds back to the nonprofit.
As the waitress approached the table, Sam Altman held up his phone. That made it easier to see the dollar amount typed into an investment contract he had spent the last 30 days negotiating with Microsoft. The investment from Microsoft, signed early this month and announced Monday, signals a new direction for Altman's research lab. In March, Altman stepped down from his daily duties as the head of Y Combinator, the startup "accelerator" that catapulted him into the Silicon Valley elite. Now, at 34, he is the chief executive of OpenAI, the artificial intelligence lab he helped create in 2015 with Elon Musk, the billionaire chief executive of the electric carmaker Tesla.
The Bay Area is famed for nurturing speculative investments like flying cars, floating cities, and the notion that a ride hailing service can turn a profit. A new utopian investment opportunity arrived Monday: Shovel dollars into a San Francisco artificial intelligence lab cofounded by Elon Musk and you'll receive a share of the profits when (or if) it figures out how to create machines smarter than humans. That pitch comes from OpenAI, an independent AI research lab cofounded as a nonprofit in 2015 by Musk and Sam Altman, the president of startup incubator YCombinator. Its stated mission was to safely create software as capable as people, which it terms artificial general intelligence or AGI, and share the benefits with the world. The founders argued society shouldn't have to hope that profit-seeking tech giants would do that.
OpenAI today announced the creation of OpenAI LP, a for-profit company that will be owned and controlled by the OpenAI nonprofit organization's board of directors. The new Delaware-based limited partnership was created to speed progress toward OpenAI's goal of advancing AI and eventually creating safe artificial general intelligence (AGI) system. OpenAI LP plans to raise and invest billions of dollars in the years ahead. Unlike narrow artificial intelligence common today, which can predict the probability of outcomes or recommend content in your Facebook News Feed, OpenAI defines AGI as a highly autonomous system able to outperform humans at most tasks. Sam Altman will serve as CEO of the new entity, while Greg Brockman will act as CTO and Ilya Sutskever as chief scientist.
Microsoft will invest $1 billion in OpenAI and work with the San Francisco-based Artificial Intelligence powerhouse to create a computational platform of "unprecedented scale" to accelerate the development of advanced forms of AI. The expanded partnership gives Microsoft and its Azure cloud platform an influential ally in its competition with Google, Amazon and other rivals in the high-stakes race to develop next-generation AI platforms and technologies. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has called out AI as a pivotal area for the future of the company. OpenAI was formed in 2016 by leaders including Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO; and Sam Altman, former president of the Y Combinator startup accelerator. Musk, who has sounded the alarm over the risks of AI, said in May that he was no longer involved inOpenAI.