Billionaire Elon Musk believes that without him, OpenAI would not exist. If he participated in the founding of the company, such a statement seems exaggerated.
OpenAI and ChatGPT wouldn’t exist without Elon Musk. In any case, this is what the latter said on May 16, 2023, during an interview with CNBC, in which he returned to the creation of the company. “It’s thanks to me that OpenAI exists,” he said of the company specializing in artificial intelligence. He even claims to have “had the idea of the name of the company”. “Without me, [OpenAI] wouldn’t exist“.
It is partly true. As he also recalls during the interview, Elon Musk participated in the creation of the company, and notably made a significant donation to it at its inception. “I can’t remember the exact number, but it was something in the order of $50 million,” he explained. But, conditioning the existence of OpenAI and the creation of ChatGPT on its sole participation is very simplistic: it was not just Elon Musk.
Elon Musk is not solely responsible
Elon Musk isn’t completely wrong when he says he helped found the company. His name has long been associated with OpenAI, especially during the early days of the company. This was particularly the case in the press, which regularly mentioned the name of Elon Musk. Including Numerama, with articles mentioning “Elon Musk’s OpenAI” or “Elon Musk’s artificial intelligence/OpenAI”.
However, to say that without it, OpenAI wouldn’t exist is a huge exaggeration. Elon Musk wasn’t the only one involved in the company’s early days. OpenAI was formed in 2015, first as a nonprofit, and the billionaire was just one of many early co-founders and investors.
They included Sam Altman, the company’s current CEO, Greg Brockman, but also Jessica Livingston, who co-founded Y Combinator, Peter Thiel, who had worked with Musk on Paypal, and companies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Infosys, and YC Research. It is thus difficult to say that Elon Musk was the only one to participate, even if the latter did indeed give 50 million euros.
Above all, as early as 2018, almost four years before the launch of ChatGPT, Elon Musk had made the decision to “walk away” from OpenAI. The billionaire had announced that he was leaving his board of directors in order to avoid any conflict of interest with his other professional projects, also using AI. Since then, even if Elon Musk continues to give his opinion on the evolution of the company, he no longer holds a position within it.
In 2020, he had thus criticized the agreement with Microsoft and OpenAI, which hinted at the beginnings of Bing with ChatGPT. Since the arrival of the chatbot, Elon Musk has also been very vocal against it, and never hesitates to criticize it: he has also signed a letter calling for a six-month break in intelligence research. artificial. He also finds ChatGPT too ” woke ” and believes that artificial intelligences shouldn’t be “politically correct”, and has therefore indicated that he will launch his own AI, “Truth GPT”.
Why does the billionaire now insist on recalling that he was part of the early days of OpenAI, after criticizing it so much and trying to get away from it? As usual with Elon Musk, there are no clear answers, but we suspect that it is to talk about him. Still and always.