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Elon Musk is a ‘jerk’ however was a ‘expertise magnet’ for OpenAI early on, admits Sam Altman—who now faces direct competitors from him


Whereas Elon Musk lately launched an A.I. startup to compete towards OpenAI, not that way back he cofounded the now-famous firm—maker of A.I. chatbots ChatGPT and GPT-4—and helped it in vital methods.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman described Musk’s early function throughout an look on the In Good Firm podcast this week.

“Elon was positively a expertise magnet and a spotlight magnet, for positive, and likewise identical to has some actual superpowers that had been tremendous useful to us in these early days, except for all of these issues,” Altman informed host Nicolai Tangen.

He didn’t give examples of these “superpowers,” however enterprise capitalist Marc Andreessen lately outlined the psychological traits that make Musk “the paramount instance” of an entrepreneur who “can’t flip it off.” 

This yr, Musk has expressed disgust with the course taken by OpenAI, and in July he launched xAI, which he mentioned is “positively in competitors” with Altman’s firm. xAI’s loftier purpose, in typical Musk fashion, is to “perceive the true nature of the universe.” To that finish he’s introduced in high A.I. expertise from Google, DeepMind, Microsoft, and his personal Tesla

Musk left OpenAI’s board of administrators in 2018. He’d provided to steer the group, however walked away from it after being rebuffed, in line with Semafor.

One in every of his beefs right this moment is that he cofounded OpenAI as a nonprofit in 2015, however then it switched to a “capped revenue” mannequin in 2019—the identical yr it obtained a $1 billion funding from Microsoft, with extra billions to comply with.

Musk’s unhappiness with OpenAI turned more and more clear earlier this yr as the corporate’s valuation soared following the launch of ChatGPT, with the A.I. chatbot turning into one of the vital rapidly adopted merchandise of all time.

He tweeted in February: “OpenAI was created as an open supply (which is why I named it “Open” AI), non-profit firm to function a counterweight to Google, however now it has turn into a closed supply, maximum-profit firm successfully managed by Microsoft.” 

Altman, whereas admitting OpenAI has taken an unconventional path in some ways, contests this characterization of the partnership with Microsoft, as does Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. However Musk, in a Could interview with CNBC, mentioned, “I do fear that Microsoft truly could also be extra in management than say the management crew at OpenAI realizes.” 

He additionally complained in March about the truth that OpenAI’s change from a nonprofit mannequin was made after he had donated tens of millions to it.

“I’m nonetheless confused as to how a non-profit to which I donated ~$100M someway turned a $30B market cap for-profit,” he tweeted. “If that is authorized, why doesn’t everybody do it?” Doubts later arose concerning the precise quantity he gave, nevertheless it appears clear that he did donate tens of millions of {dollars} to the then-nonprofit.

Altman’s remarks on Musk have been combined. In Could, Altman mentioned throughout a speech in London that “studying from Elon about what’s simply, like, potential to do” had been “tremendous precious.” 

However he informed the On With Kara Swisher podcast in March, “I imply, he’s a jerk, no matter else you need to say about him—he has a method that’s not a method that I’d need to have for myself.” 


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