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16th December 2015

"OpenAI" – a new venture to create benevolent artificial intelligence

A team of world-class researchers, engineers and technology experts have announced a non-profit collaboration – OpenAI – that will work to encourage the development of AI that benefits humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.


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OpenAI is a brand new artificial intelligence (AI) research organisation that has just been announced in San Francisco, California. The company aims to advance and develop "friendly" AI in such a way as to benefit humanity as a whole. One of the largest differences between OpenAI and other organisations working on artificial intelligence, is OpenAI's non-profit status. In a press release explaining its founding, OpenAI states that their research will therefore be "unconstrained by a need to generate financial return", allowing them to "better focus on a positive human impact."

Related to this, another major goal of the organisation is to prevent corporations and governments from gaining too much power by them employing advanced AI, and instead making sure that the benefits of AI are divided as equally as possible. To meet that objective, the organisation will aim to "freely collaborate" with other institutions and researchers, by making their research open source.

The team's co-chairs are Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and entrepreneur Sam Altman. Former research scientist at Google, Ilya Sutskever, is the research director. Former Stripe CTO Greg Brockman is the CTO. They are supported by $1 billion in commitments from various sources. In the past, many of the employees and board members have openly stated their concern of existential risk from advanced AI – most notably, Elon Musk, who has openly declared his desire to personally oversee research done in this area.

"It's hard to fathom how much human-level AI could benefit society, and it's equally hard to imagine how much it could damage society if built or used incorrectly," the company says in a statement. Artificial intelligence "should be an extension of individual human wills and, in the spirit of liberty, as broadly and evenly distributed as is possible safely."

You can read more on the company's website, OpenAI.com. They can also be followed on Twitter at @open_ai.


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