An AI Lab’s Ambition to Mimic the Brain

OpenAI is an AI lab founded in 2015 as a non-profit by Elon Musk and Sam Altman with the goal to promote and develop friendly AI to benefit humanity as a whole, making all its patents and research open to the public.

The Tesla billionaire left OpenAI last year to focus on his own AI ambitions. Last week, he announced via a three-hour internet live-stream, for the first time, a new way to connect people’s brain to computers, a project of Neuralink, a company the billionaire formed two years ago.

Four months ago, Altman left Y Combinator, the world-renown startup accelerator, to focus on Open AI. Serving as its CEO, Altman has remade OpenAI into a for-profit company to aggressively seek financing. Now OpenAI has just landed $1 billion from Microsoft, the NYTimes reported. His ambition is to build Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), “a machine that can do anything the human brain can do.”

A signature work of OpenAI is a system that could play Dota 2, a video game, no worse than the world’s best players. The new project, AGI may not come until decades later or even centuries. But they will get there. “If they can gather enough data to describe everything humans deal with on a daily basis — and if they have enough computing power to analyze all that data — they believe they can rebuild human intelligence.” (NYTimes) In the collaboration, Microsoft will eventually become the lab’s sole source of computing power.

Alman thinks that AGI will be the most important technological development in human history. There is at least one skeptic though. Geoffrey Hinton, who recently received the Turing Award for his outstanding contributions to AI, questioned the necessity for AGI. Also, he considers AGI too big a problem. “I’d much rather focus on something where you can figure out how you might solve it.”

The NY Times article about this newly funded project is here.