Some of the biggest names in the world of technology, including SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, have announced $1 billion (£660 million) in funding for an artificial intelligence research group, with the ultimate goal being to “benefit humanity.” Other names alongside Musk include LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel.
The company is known as OpenAI, and according to a statement, it is a “non-profit artificial intelligence research company” that will advance digital intelligence. It’s not entirely clear what this company will be up to, but in the statement the company indicates it will work to improve existing artificial intelligence, and make it safe.
“Because of AI's surprising history, it's hard to predict when human-level AI might come within reach,” the statement reads. “When it does, it'll be important to have a leading research institution which can prioritize a good outcome for all over its own self-interest.”
Artificial intelligence will soon be used in everything from driverless cars to helper robots, while many other exciting possibilities exist in the future. Deep learning is of particular interest, with machines learning how to perform tasks rather than being told what to do. Just the other day, a program was shown to exhibit human-like learning capabilities when analyzing handwriting.
But some, including Stephen Hawking and even Musk himself, have warned of the dangers artificial intelligence could pose if used incorrectly. The goal of OpenAI seems to be to ensure some sort of AI apocalypse isn’t on the horizon.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 11, 2015
In an interview with Medium the other day, Musk said: “As you know, I’ve had some concerns about AI for some time,” adding that “a non-profit, with no obligation to maximize profitability, would probably be a good thing to do. And also we’re going to be very focused on safety.”
OpenAI will initially have eight researchers working on programs, with their work available for anyone to access and use. In the Medium piece, Sam Altman of Y Contributor said it would ultimately be a “multi-decade project” with hundreds of people involved.
“As a non-profit, our aim is to build value for everyone rather than shareholders,” adds the statement. “Researchers will be strongly encouraged to publish their work, whether as papers, blog posts, or code, and our patents (if any) will be shared with the world. We'll freely collaborate with others across many institutions and expect to work with companies to research and deploy new technologies.”
If all goes to plan, we won’t be bowing down to robotic overlords any time soon.