Elon Musk Leaves OpenAI to Eliminate a Potential Conflict of Interest with Tesla

Elon Musk leaves OpenAI to avoid conflict of interest with Tesla, which has been building out artificial intelligence hardware and software.
Sibel Nicholson

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, is going to leave the board of OpenAI, a nonprofit research group, it was announced in a blog post today. 

Musk is leaving to avoid a conflict of interest between OpenAI’s work and the machine learning research done by Tesla to develop autonomous driving, the blog post said. “As Tesla continues to become more focused on AI, this will eliminate a potential future conflict for Elon,” it said.

Musk plans to stay on as a donator to OpenAI and will continue to advise the group.


Musk had co-founded the prominent tech non-profit institution Open AI with Y Combinator president Sam Altman to study the ethics and safety of artificial intelligence.

The blog post also announced new donors for OpenAI, including video game developer Gabe Newell, Skype founder Jaan Tallinn, and the former US and Canadian Olympians Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton.

OpenAI said it was increasing the number of its funders to ramp up investments in their people and the “resources necessary to make consequential breakthroughs in artificial intelligence.”

With artificial intelligence bound to have a near-term impact on areas such as surveillance and propaganda, this work has gained critical importance.

AI may pose threat

OpenAI has been established just three years ago, but has since then become a significant member of the global machine learning community. Its areas of research are wide and include teaching computers to control robots with minimal instruction and the creation of AI agents to play the popular video game Dota.

The institute has also recently contributed to a disciplinary report outlining the ways AI could be used maliciously in the next five years.

Researchers affiliated with OpenAI have been publishing AI research papers on a regular basis. They also release source code for other people to use.

Open AI does not sell any products unlike other companies such as Tesla, Facebook and Google which also conduct AI research.

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Musk has in the past made warning statements about the threats artificial intelligence may pose. He said in 2014 that AI is "potentially more dangerous than nukes”.

Running behind on delivery

Entrepreneur and technology billionaire Elon Musk has taken on many different challenges in a short time. In addition to being the CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla, he has also co-founded Hyperloop, which develops super fast tube-transportation systems.

He is also the founder of the Boring Company which digs tunnels, and the brain science venture, Neuralink. Musk has also invested in other AI companies, DeepMind and Vicarious. SpaceX’s largest rocket Falcon Heavy was launched two weeks ago, sending a Tesla Roadster into orbit.

Tesla has been known to struggle with production bottlenecks recently, running significantly behind on delivery times.

Elon Musk has promised prospective customers and investors that vehicles with Tesla's "Hardware 2" sensors would be capable of fully autonomous driving with software upgrades in 2019. The company has so far not managed to come close to delivering a level 5 self-driving system.

Via: OpenAI

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