OpenAI: A New Non-Profit Initiative to Develop AI Technology

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Artificial Intelligence is a relatively new field of science which has a had of interest in recent years from companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

There have been many improvements in Artificial Intelligence, such as beating the best human chess player in the world by the Deep Blue IBM team. The newest interest from the likes of Facebook, Google and Microsoft has been to use Artificial Intelligence to help everyday life. Just think, every time you Google pictures of cats, you’re using Artificial Intelligence technology, because Google uses it to identify which pictures are of cats.

The examples used above: to play chess, or to identify cats in pictures, are very specific examples of how Artificial Intelligence can be used. In fact, it’s not really intelligence as such, it’s more a specific ‘trick’.

What seems as a ‘trick’ now, might morph into more core intelligence features, that mimic human intelligence.

Currently, a lot of research is being conducted by companies.

That’s where OpenAI comes in. They’re a non-profit group with a mission to research Artificial Intelligence, without the goal of making money. So they get to think about things that may not necessarily get a quick Return on Investment.

As defined by OpenAI, their goal:

“Our goal is to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.”

OpenAI mention an interesting new sub-field of Artificial Intelligence:

“The past few years have held another flavor of surprise. An AI technique explored for decades, deep learning, started achieving state-of-the-art results in a wide variety of problem domains. In deep learning, rather than hand-code a new algorithm for each problem, you design architectures that can twist themselves into a wide range of algorithms based on the data you feed them.”

Deep Learning has led to lots of cool projects, such as Artificial Intelligent drawings from neural nets. So this is an area where the OpenAI team will focus on.

Where to for OpenAI

OpenAI would like to move towards broadening Artificial Intelligence, and the use of Artificial Intelligence. They’d like to do that to further humans, and human capabilities, rather than specifically thinking about how to help shareholders.

They have some amazing backers, from their website:

“OpenAI’s research director is Ilya Sutskever, one of the world experts in machine learning. Our CTO is Greg Brockman, formerly the CTO of Stripe. The group’s other founding members are world-class research engineers and scientists: Trevor Blackwell, Vicki Cheung, Andrej Karpathy, Durk Kingma, John Schulman, Pamela Vagata, and Wojciech Zaremba. Pieter Abbeel, Yoshua Bengio, Alan Kay, Sergey Levine, and Vishal Sikka are advisors to the group. OpenAI’s co-chairs are Sam Altman and Elon Musk.”

“Sam, Greg, Elon, Reid Hoffman, Jessica Livingston, Peter Thiel, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Infosys, and YC Research are donating to support OpenAI. In total, these funders have committed $1 billion, although we expect to only spend a tiny fraction of this in the next few years.”

It’ll be interesting to see what the OpenAI team achieves in the future.

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