Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk announced the start of a $1 billion research institute aimed at promoting safe artificial intelligence research on Friday.
Called OpenAI, the non-profit effort will "advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole," according to its founding statement. The announcement claims backing from Musk, Amazon Web Services, and other investors.
Musk has raised alarm over the potential dangers of artificial intelligence research calling it "our greatest existential threat" in a 2014 interview. Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates signed on to a letter in July calling for the banning of killer robots, warning they could create a "third revolution in warfare," akin to the invention of gunpowder.
The OpenAI research foundation will not be beholden to shareholders, and its code and patents will be made freely available, according to the statement.
The foundation has gathered a team of young computer scientists to serve as founders of the institute, and advisors such as Pieter Abbeel of the University of California at Berkeley.
“This collection of people is stunning,” Abeel told Bloomberg News.
The OpenAI team, headed by Greg Brockman and machine learning expert Ilya Sutskever, expressed concern over recent successes in "deep learning" machines — the best known example is IBM's Jeopardy Champion Watson — that program themselves to solve problems.
"It's hard to fathom how much human-level AI could benefit society, and
it's equally hard to imagine how much it could damage society if built
or used incorrectly."