OpenAI, Elon Musk, Microsoft… Who is behind the artificial intelligence phenomenon?

ChatGPT is hard to miss at the beginning of the year. Accessible to the public since the end of November, this stunning computer program has introduced the largest number of people to the latest developments in so-called generative artificial intelligence through its ability to search, sort, build and display original answers in seconds, consistently and naturally to any query in multiple human languages.

Behind ChatGPT, we found a California company that is not well known to the general public named OpenAI, founded in 2015 by big names in techsuch as Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk, Paypal co-founder and Silicon Valley star investor Peter Thiel, entrepreneur Sam Altman, head of the prestigious San Francisco startup incubator Y Combinator (Airbnb, Dropbox…) or a former engineer from financial company Stripe, Greg Brockman.

OpenAI was initially conceived as a private non-profit artificial intelligence research center and is committed to making the results of its work accessible to everyone. His reason for being ? Develop a so-called “general” artificial intelligence, that is, which will benefit the greatest number. “Our goal is to advance digital intelligence in a direction more likely to benefit humanity,” the company defined itself on its website at the time.

Faced with the possible abuses of this technology and the fear of seeing the human species one day overtaken by machines, a significant anxiety in Silicon Valley at the time, OpenAI considered that “AI must an extension of individual human will and, in the spirit of liberty, to be distributed as widely and equally as possible.” To do this, the company believes that divesting itself of financial obligations is the best way for it to focus on “positive human impact.” “Creating value for everyone, rather than for shareholders”, in other words.

Elon Musk has distanced himself, Microsoft’s preferred partner

OpenAI was immediately available meaningful way to carry out his research. The first round raised $1 billion from an initial panel of investors, including Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Sam Altman, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, and Amazon Web Services, the cloud division. of the trading giant. For 7 years, the Californian company has been important in the artificial intelligence research landscape. In addition to ChatGPT, we owe him Dall-E, the powerful model capable of generating photorealistic images from textual commands. And an AI programmed to generate videos is in its boxes.

OpenAI has also seen its model evolve over 7 years. Elon Musk recused himself from the project in 2018 to avoid a conflict of interest with his company Tesla, which also conducts AI research. The billionaire, who remains one of the main donors of the structure, also has resented Microsoft’s growing influence in the project. In 2019, OpenAI made an ideological change by creating a commercial company with a profit cap to find new investments for its research. The group founded by Bill Gates entered its capital in the amount of one billion dollars, which revoked the exclusive license to use ChatGPT-3, the current version of the chatbot, against the provision of cloud-computing resources necessary for developing and hosting the program.

The success of Dall-E and ChatGPT has whetted the appetite around OpenAI. The laboratory, now almost unprofitable, will be in the sights of Silicon Valley’s biggest investors – the Sequoia and Andreessen Horowitz funds, in particular – will seek to buy back part of its shares, an operation that will value the organization at about 29 billion dollars. According to Reuters, OpenAI now expects revenue of $200 million by 2023 and $1 billion next year, with an economic model based essentially on selling licenses to other companies, including Microsoft, which plans to -invest an additional $10 billion to integrate ChatGPT. with its Bing search engine and Office 365 suite, and several startups specializing in advertising and SEO.

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