In a recent interview with CNBC, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk discussed his involvement with the inception of the company and the relationship between OpenAI and Microsoft.
Musk was asked about his recently expressed concern about the change of direction for OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT, and how he was involved in creating the company. Musk says that he was the one that came up with the name 'OpenAI' following several lengthy conversations with Larry Page, co-founder of Google, where they both would discuss the future of artificial intelligence.
Throughout these conversations, Musk said he expressed major concern about a seeming lack of AI safety and regulations at Google, which at the time was the largest player in the artificial intelligence market, controlling at least three-quarters of the world's AI talent. Musk recounted conversations with Page where the Google co-founder said that Musk was a "specist", as he Musk was pro-human consciousness and not pro-machine consciousness.
In response to what Musk learned about AI developments through Page, the Tesla CEO decided to create a company that was the exact opposite of what Google was, a proverbial counterweight to Google. Musk coined to term OpenAI, a reference to the company's principle of being open-source, and since the plan was to be the complete opposite of Google, OpenAI was also a non-profit. However, both of those principles have changed, according to Musk, as the SpaceX CEO says OpenAI has become a closed-source and a for-profit company.
Notably, Musk says that he was instrumental in the creation of OpenAI as he pledged as much as $50 million to the company while also being the one that convinced computer scientists and engineers to join the project. Musk highlighted Ilya Sutskever, a Russian-Israeli-Canadian computer scientist, co-founder of OpenAI, and the company's Chief Scientist, as being the "lynchpin" that got OpenAI to reach where it is today. According to Musk, Sutskever was tossing up which company to join, and Musk ultimately convinced him to join OpenAI.
Musk went on to propose the question - what if OpenAI actually creates a super-intelligent AI system that could be seen as "godlike". Who is in control of that? Furthermore, the Tesla CEO warned the leadership team at OpenAI is likely not aware of how much control Microsoft has over the company, with Musk saying, "at any point, Microsoft could cut off OpenAI".
The CEO of Microsoft recently responded to Elon Musk's comments about Microsoft's relationship with OpenAI. If you are interested in reading more about that story, check out the below link.