OpenAI: Elon Musk and other tech giants pledge $1 billion to stop humanity being taken over by evil robots

Robots will learn how to be good by poring through Reddit and other data, makers say

Andrew Griffin
Monday 14 December 2015 13:53 GMT
Robots wait to serve customers at a restaurant in China
Robots wait to serve customers at a restaurant in China

Elon Musk and a set of other tech giants have launched a $1 billion fund to try and make robots that won’t kill humanity.

Mr Musk has repeatedly warned about the dangers of artificial intelligence, calling them the biggest threat to humanity. A range of other famous scientists and technologists have warned about the same, including Stephen Hawking.

The newly-launched company is called OpenAI and will make use of huge sets of data to build artificially intelligent robots that don’t end up killing humans.

OpenAI’s goal is “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,” according to its website.

The new company hopes that it can work against too many big companies like Google or Facebook — both of which have huge artificial intelligence operations — getting too much power from “super-intelligence systems”. Governments may also use the power of AI to oppress the citizens, the backers of OpenAI have warned.

Robots evolve on their own

The company is being funded by Elon Musk as well as a range of other backers. Those include YCombinator, a startup funding programme that has stakes in some of the biggest technology companies.

Both YCombinator and Elon Musk will share the data that their companies generate with the AI firms. That will mean, for instance, that everything on Reddit could be given to the robots to help them learn.

Sam Altman from YCombinator said that the Reddit data “would be a very useful training set, for example”.

Musk will also hand over data from his projects, including Tesla’s self-driving cars and SpaceX’s rockets.

“You can imagine all of the Tesla self-driving car video information being very valuable. Huge volumes of data are really important,” Mr Altman said.

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