Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter CEO Elon Musk reportedly attempted to takeover OpenAI in 2018 but ended up cutting ties with the company after his plan was rejected.
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The news comes from Semafor, which recently published an article that claims Musk, a founder and board member at the time, said to Sam Altman, current OpenAI CEO, and other fellow board members that OpenAI was losing to Google. Musk then followed up by offering to lead OpenAI himself, which was rejected by Altman and the other board members. According to the article Musk then stepped down from the board and pulled out his planned donation to the company.
At the time of Musk’s departure, the Tesla CEO cited a conflict of interest between Tesla and OpenAI as the reason for his leaving. Musk said that Tesla was creating its own artificial intelligence system and would be competing for talent with OpenAI. However, according to the eight people familiar with the inside story that spoke to Semafor, a power struggle and rivalry started between Musk and Altman following Musk’s rejection, which resulted in Musk stepping down from the board of directors and immediately stopping payments of his promised $1 billion donation that would have been rolled out over many years.
Musk stopping his payments caused OpenAI, which was a non-profit at the time, to be unable to make their payments on the fees associated with the training language models, such as using a supercomputer to train the model. Since Musk’s departure, the SpaceX CEO has been very critical of OpenAI, saying publicly the company isn’t what it once was, going from an open-source company that is focused on AI transparency to a company that is closed and profit-driven.
It was only last month that Musk took to his personal Twitter account to say that it was named ‘OpenAI’ because it was intended to be an open-source, non-profit “counterweight” to Google. The Tesla CEO went on to write that OpenAI is now being “effectively controlled by Microsoft” and that it’s turned into something that isn’t “what I intended at all“. Musk writing that OpenAI is controlled by Microsoft refers to the company’s massive $10 billion donation to OpenAI that gained it exclusive access to the underlying GPT language model that’s powering ChatGPT and now Microsoft’s Bing Chat.
In other artificial intelligence news, Stanford researchers that built an almost clone of OpenAI’s ChatGPT for $600 decided to remove the demo, citing safety and practical concerns with its existence. Additionally, Microsoft researchers have said that OpenAI’s new GPT-4 language model could be viewed as the beginning of AGI.