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OpenAI Aims to Bring AI to the People

OpenAI's founding begins the Third Sector's involvement in bringing AI, possibly the most important conceptual force for good, to reality.

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In an abrupt about-face, Elon Musk (among others) has stopped warning about developing AI—and is planning to control its course instead. 

Musk warned last year that AI development might pose the greatest future threat to humanity's existence; however, he seems to have decided that the best path forward is to continue research, but “free from financial obligations” that might stand in the way of creating technologies to benefit humanity as a whole.

Figures from pulp fiction to science's highest Ivory Tower have warned that reckless development in AI may bring us to the Singularity unprepared. OpenAI is a new non-profit, which will focus on development of AI for humanitarian, not financial, gain.

OpenAI's “Hello World” blog post discusses the implications of deep learning—hard on the heels of Google's release of TensorFlow and Facebook's upcoming release of its AI hardware designs—for machines' creativity, dreaming, and experience of the world. 

While today AI systems are expert at certain tasks, rather than adaptable to general challenges, OpenAI will likely  “develop architectures that can twist themselves into a wide range of algorithms.”

The non-profit boasts funders and researchers that is a list of the technology world's luminaries: 

OpenAI's research director is Ilya Sutskever, one of the world experts in machine learning. Our CTO is Greg Brockman, formerly the CTO of Stripe. The group's other founding members are world-class research engineers and scientists: Trevor BlackwellVicki CheungAndrej KarpathyDurk KingmaJohn SchulmanPamela Vagata, and Wojciech Zaremba. Pieter Abbeel, Yoshua Bengio, Alan Kay, Sergey Levine, and Vishal Sikka are advisors to the group.

OpenAI's co-chairs are Sam Altman and Elon Musk. Sam, Greg, Elon, Reid Hoffman, Jessica Livingston, Peter Thiel, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Infosys, and  YC Research are donating to support OpenAI. In total, these funders have committed $1 billion, although we expect to only spend a tiny fraction of this in the next few years.

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