“I was a colossal idiot”: Elon Musk acknowledges that leaving OpenAI was one of his biggest mistakes

Artificial Intelligence | May 22, 2023

“I was a colossal idiot”: Elon Musk acknowledges that leaving OpenAI was one of his biggest mistakes

The CEO of Twitter has a lot on his mind lately, and he tends to speak his thoughts, not only on his own social media account but also in interviews like the one he recently gave to CNBC. In it, he discussed a variety of topics and touched upon his past as a founder of OpenAI.

I am the reason OpenAI exists.” The creator of Tesla and SpaceX was one of the major investors in OpenAI when the company was founded in 2015. Elon Musk contributed around $50 million from his fortune to help the company get started, but due to disagreements with its leaders, he eventually left the project. Musk wanted control, which he couldn’t obtain.

He even came up with the name himself. According to his words, the idea of using that name for the company was his, inspired by “Open Source,” and the goal was to do things differently from how Google was doing them. Musk mentioned how he used to discuss the topic with Larry Page before OpenAI was created, and while he saw risks in AI development, Page did not. Shortly after, Google acquired DeepMind and became one of the leading players in the field.

I feel like a big idiot.” Although Musk invested in the company, he saw it as almost impossible to compete with Google and DeepMind, which he viewed as “an elephant. There was no possible competition.” However, the company thrived, but Musk was already out of it due to those disagreements. It was a significant missed opportunity for him.

OpenAI is no longer open. Musk found it strange that a company that was initially conceived as a non-profit organization with an Open Source philosophy ended up becoming a for-profit company with proprietary code. “It’s like a company that wants to protect the Amazon rainforest turning into a tree-cutting business that sells the wood afterward.” To him, that seemed almost illegal.

Be cautious of Microsoft. In the final part of that excerpt, Musk expressed concern about the profit-driven nature of companies associated with OpenAI. “I’m concerned that Microsoft has more control than the OpenAI team realizes.” The Redmond-based company announced a multimillion-dollar investment in OpenAI earlier this year, and as a result, they have started integrating ChatGPT into Bing and their new Microsoft 365 Copilot.

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