One of the poorest kept secrets in Silicon Valley has been the huge salaries and bonuses that experts in artificial intelligence can command. Now, a little-noticed tax filing by a research lab called OpenAI has made some of those eye-popping figures public. OpenAI paid its top researcher, Ilya Sutskever, more than $1.9m (£1.35m) in 2016. It paid another leading researcher, Ian Goodfellow, more than $800,000 (£570,000) – even though he was not hired until March of that year. Both were recruited from Google.
Elon Musk's OpenAI is paying big money for the world's best AI researchers. There's been a lot of speculation in the last couple of years about how much money technology firms are paying the world's top artificial intelligence (AI) experts but concrete numbers have been hard to come by. That changed this week when Cade Metz, a journalist for The New York Times, revealed that he had stumbled upon a tax filing from OpenAI -- an AI research lab set up by Tesla CEO Elon Musk -- that included staff salaries and bonuses. The numbers are high, especially when you consider the fact that Open AI is a non-profit organisation. The company, which says it is working to ensure AI benefits all of humanity, was founded in San Francisco in 2015.
Researchers in artificial intelligence can stand to make a ton of money. But this week, we actually know just how much some A.I. experts are being paid -- and it's a lot, even at a nonprofit. OpenAI, a nonprofit research lab, paid its lead A.I. expert, Ilya Sutskever, more than $1.9 million in 2016, according to a recent public tax filing. Another researcher, Ian Goodfellow, made more than $800,000 that year, even though he was only hired in March, the New York Times reported. As the publication points out, the figures are eye-opening and offer a bit of insight on how much A.I. researchers are being paid across the globe.
Will artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning carve up the tech industry into "haves" and "have nots"? That's the thesis presented by a recent article in The New York Times, which suggests that, while ultra-monetized companies such as Google and Facebook can fund as much A.I. research as they need, academic institutions and smaller firms are being left behind. "The huge computing resources these companies have pose a threat--the universities cannot compete," Craig Knoblock, executive director of the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California, told the newspaper. The Times points to OpenAI, which launched as a nonprofit designed to prevent A.I. from being used in terrible and unethical ways, as an example of this trend. OpenAI has since evolved into a "capped" for-profit company, and reportedly plans to use any revenues to fund its computing infrastructure.
OpenAI may not be quite so open going forward. The former nonprofit announced today that it is restructuring as a "capped-profit" company that cuts returns from investments past a certain point. But some worry that this move -- or rather the way they made it -- may result in making the innovative company no different from the other AI startups out there. From now on, profits from any investment in the OpenAI LP (limited partnership, not limited profit) will be passed on to an overarching nonprofit company, which will disperse them as it sees fit. Profits in excess of a 100x return, that is.