Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, has responded to criticisms from Elon Musk, CEO of Twitter, regarding his for-profit company, which was recently acquired by Microsoft. During a podcast interview, Altman emphasised that OpenAI remains “independent” from Microsoft despite the acquisition.
Altman acknowledged during the “On With Kara Swisher” podcast that Musk has criticised OpenAI on Twitter but also noted that Musk has a genuine concern for the future of artificial general intelligence (AGI) and its impact on humanity. Altman acknowledged Musk’s passion for AGI while also commenting on his abrasive style.
“Elon Musk is obviously attacking us,” Altman said. “To say a positive thing about Elon, I think he really does care about a good future with artificial general intelligence (AGI). I mean, he’s a jerk, whatever else you want to say about him. But he has a style that is not a style that I’d want to have for myself.”
“But I think he does really care, and he is feeling very stressed about what the future’s going to look like for humanity,” the OpenAI CEO added.
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In 2018, Musk tried to take control of OpenAI but was rejected by Altman and other founders. He subsequently resigned from OpenAI’s board, citing a conflict of interest with his work at Tesla. He also reneged on a promised $1 billion funding contribution, providing only $100 million before walking away.
In March 2019, OpenAI announced the creation of a for-profit entity to raise money for the computing power necessary to develop AGI. Microsoft later invested $1 billion in OpenAI.
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Altman emphasised that OpenAI’s partnership with Microsoft has not compromised the company’s independence or its commitment to AGI. He also downplayed the criticisms from Musk, stating that he believed Musk’s concerns were genuine but that he did not agree with all of Musk’s views.
Overall, Altman’s comments sought to clarify OpenAI’s relationship with Microsoft and to address concerns raised by Musk and others about the direction of OpenAI’s research.