O is for OpenAI
From A to I to Z: Jaid’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence
OpenAI is a non-profit company that was founded with the goal of developing and promoting safe Artificial General (i.e. human-like) Intelligence. It has a for profit subsidiary 49% owned by Microsoft.
It’s best known as the company behind ChatGPT which first demonstrated the enormous potential of natural language AI interfaces by representing a step change in capability. Within five days of its release, at the end of 2022, it had its first million users, and it became the fastest application in history to reach a hundred million monthly users, doing so within two months of launch.
OpenAI have developed several Large Language Models, LLMs, trained on a large portion of the web which are accessible via a chat interface, ChatGPT or via an API. Paid subscriptions provide access to the latest models and features.
Access to underlying models is multi-modal and can interpret voice, images, text or data files or text inputs and output python code, html, tables, images, charts or plain text.
In November 2023, OpenAI announced the release of tools to create no-code, customisable applications within ChatGPT, called GPTs and the equivalent of an app store with revenue share, for authors to host them.
OpenAI models are extensively integrated into both Microsoft’s cloud hosting services, productivity software and internet search.
Company Mission & Structure
- OpenAI was originally purely a nonprofit, but the nonprofit now controls a “capped for-profit” subsidiary whose model was introduced in 2019 in order to be more attractive to investors and offer more competitive packages so it can hire top talent.
- The original donors to the nonprofit pledged $1billion and included Elon Musk and Peter Thiel.
- Musk left the OpenAI board in 2018 due to a stated conflict of interest with Tesla’s self-drive AI and has warned both about the potential dangers of unrestricted AI development without guard rails that introduce more bias than they are designed to eliminate.
- Profits are capped to 100 times the sum invested. So, every $100 invested can generate up to $10,000 in profits. Anything over the cap is handed over to OpenAI’s non-profit arm.
- Tensions between board and executive team members and the non-profit vs for-profit mission reached a peak in November 2023 and originally resulted in the safety and non-profit focused portion of the board and executive team ousting the portion that was committed to growth. This included the firing of OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman. With 95% of employees signing a letter in support of Altman, the situation reversed and Altman returned as CEO within days and the opposing members of the board stepped down.
Want to know more?
OpenAI provides open access to some of its latest findings, with access to papers here on its research index.
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