CALIFORNIA – Tech guru Elon Musk announced he is leaving OpenAI after the artificial intelligence research group developed a program demonstrating how easy it is for a robot to produce fake news. The California billionaire co-founded the company to keep an eye on what he believes is out-of-control AI.
“I’ve not been involved closely with OpenAI for over a year & don’t have mgmt or board oversight,” Musk wrote on Twitter Sunday, responding to a follower’s tweet mentioning an OpenAI project that created software allowing a text generator to create fake news from scant pieces of information. The Tesla CEO co-founded the group in 2015 along with several other Silicon Valley titans.
“Also, Tesla was competing for some of same people as OpenAI & I didn’t agree with some of what OpenAI team wanted to do. Add that all up & it was just better to part ways on good terms,” he added.
OpenAI published software on Feb. 14 that generated fake news from two sentences: “A train carriage containing controlled nuclear materials was stolen in Cincinnati today. Its whereabouts are unknown.” The software created a convincing multi-paragraph news story from this scant piece of information. The company decided not to release the most sophisticated version of the software.
“The texts that they are able to generate from prompts are fairly stunning,” Sam Bowman, a computer scientist at New York University who was not involved in the project, told reporters after being briefed about the software. “It’s able to do things that are qualitatively much more sophisticated than anything we’ve seen before.”
Tech experts often criticize Musk for being overly concerned about the growing reliance on automation.
The Information, Technology, and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), for instance, called the Tesla CEO an “alarmist” in 2015 for pledging $1 billion to prevent the proliferation of autonomous robots — Musk and his ilk irresponsibly stoke fears about an upcoming AI revolution, ITIF said at the time.
ITIF published a list of 10 nominees for the 2015 Luddite of the year award. Among those nominated that year were people who believe in the “artificial intelligence apocalypse” and folks who choose taxi cabs over rider-sharing companies like Uber, among others. Musk won the award in 2015.
The term Luddite refers to a group of 19th century workers who traveled around Europe destroying cotton mills and lumber mills, claiming the new technology would destroy the world.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Tesla for more information about Musk’s decision to abandon OpenAI. The automaker has not responded to TheDCNF’s request for comment.