Friday, March 3, 2023

OpenAI Is Today Unrecognizable

Chloe Xiang (via Hacker News)::

This blog post and OpenAI’s recent actions—all happening at the peak of the ChatGPT hype cycle—is a reminder of how much OpenAI’s tone and mission have changed from its founding, when it was exclusively a nonprofit. While the firm has always looked toward a future where AGI exists, it was founded on commitments including not seeking profits and even freely sharing code it develops, which today are nowhere to be seen.

OpenAI was founded in 2015 as a nonprofit research organization by Altman, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, among other tech leaders. In its founding statement, the company declared its commitment to research “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.” The blog stated that “since our research is free from financial obligations, we can better focus on a positive human impact,” and that all researchers would be encouraged to share “papers, blog posts, or code, and our patents (if any) will be shared with the world.”


By March 2019, OpenAI shed its non-profit status and set up a “capped profit” sector, in which the company could now receive investments and would provide investors with profit capped at 100 times their investment. The company’s decision was likely a result of its desire to compete with Big Tech rivals like Google and ended up receiving a $1 billion investment shortly after from Microsoft.


Update (2023-03-16): James Vincent:

Yesterday, OpenAI announced GPT-4, its long-awaited next-generation AI language model. The system’s capabilities are still being assessed, but as researchers and experts pore over its accompanying materials, many have expressed disappointment at one particular feature: that despite the name of its parent company, GPT-4 is not an open AI model.


“I think we can call it shut on ‘Open’ AI: the 98 page paper introducing GPT-4 proudly declares that they’re disclosing nothing about the contents of their training set,” tweeted Ben Schmidt, VP of information design at Nomic AI, in a thread on the topic.


Update (2023-03-24): Rohan Goswami (via Hacker News):

Altman didn’t take an equity stake in the company when it added the for-profit OpenAI LP entity in 2019, Semafor reported Friday.

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Harald Striepe

Money & greed pollute and cause many to avoid values and ethics.
The capitalist system is insufficient as the sole value within a polity and, on its own without other values, destroys it.

None of this should surprise anyone, nor should anyone be surprised by how much we’ll regret all this enthusiasm in a few years’ time. But I look forward to reading all the articles in 2028 that express surprise all the same.

Given the limited AI that major tech firms are now using to get us to buy more stuff, I don’t hold much hope for it to do anything other than get better at convincing the public to buy more stuff. Even capped profit means some buys something. Perhaps the best use of AI I have heard hinted at is finding coding errors in programming. If that comes about, maybe operating systems will work like they claim!

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