In 2015, OpenAI was founded by tech billionaires, including Elon Musk and Reid Hoffman. The non-profit organization was launched with great fanfare and had the support of billionaires and tech giants such as LinkedIn founder Reed Hoffman, who pledged $1 billion in funding as a group. However, just three years after its inception, Musk withdrew a huge sum of money and walked away from OpenAI. This incident caused a public rift between Musk and OpenAI founder Sam Altman that still exists today.
The Beginning of the Conflict
Musk Proposes a Solution
Musk told co-founder Sam Altman that OpenAI had been left far behind by Google. He proposed a solution: he would take control of OpenAI and run it himself. However, Altman and the other founders rejected Musk’s proposal. Musk chose to leave the company and canceled a large donation plan.
Musk’s Leaves from OpenAI
The consequences of this conflict eventually led to Musk’s announcement of his departure from OpenAI on February 20, 2018. This incident also deeply affected the world-changing artificial intelligence industry and the core companies in the industry.
Musk’s Reason for Leaving
At OpenAI, few people believe that Musk’s reason for leaving is so superficial. Even though he said in his official speech that it was for so-called “interest reasons,” most employees did not buy the story. An OpenAI announcement stated that Musk will continue to fund the company’s development, but according to people familiar with the matter, Musk has not fulfilled his promise. He pledged to donate about $1 billion over several years (after giving away $100 million), but the donations stopped after he left.
The Aftermath of the Conflict
The Competition Between Tesla and OpenAI
Tesla, which is developing its own artificial intelligence for autonomous driving, will compete with OpenAI for talent. And then the competition really happened. Tesla poached one of OpenAI’s best minds, Andrei Karpathy, who joined Tesla as the architect of the autonomous driving program.
That fall, some at OpenAI realized that the cost of being a cutting-edge AI company was going to rise. Google Brain’s ‘Transformer’ opens up a new field where AI can be iteratively optimized. But that also means feeding it endless amounts of data to train it on — a costly endeavor. So OpenAI made a big decision to switch to these Transformer models.
The Key Players
Elon Musk is a tech billionaire who co-founded OpenAI in 2015. He withdrew a huge sum of money and walked away from OpenAI in 2018, causing a public rift between him and OpenAI founder Sam Altman.
Sam Altman is the founder of OpenAI. He rejected Musk’s proposal to take control of OpenAI and run it himself, leading to Musk’s departure from the company. Altman stepped in and became OpenAI’s president in 2018.
Greg Brockman was then co-founder and CTO of OpenAI. He and other senior executives opposed Musk’s takeover. A power struggle ensued, according to people familiar with the matter.
The conflict between Elon Musk and OpenAI has had a significant impact on the artificial intelligence industry and the core companies in the industry. It has also caused a public rift between two of the most important players in tech today: Elon Musk and Sam Altman.