Elon Musk leaves OpenAI to avoid conflict of interest

After a report came out about the dangers of AI in self-driving cars, Elon Musk had no choice but to resign from OpenAI -- an organization he co-founded.

February 22, 2018

On Tuesday, a group of researchers released a report outlining the dangers of AI advancement, aptly titled “The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation.”

The report — which warns of a dangerous sci-fi future where hackers could build swarms of deadly micro-drones and use self-driving cars as weapons — comes from major AI organizations, including the Elon Musk-backed nonprofit OpenAI.

Now, citing a conflict of interest, Elon Musk has left the very organization he co-founded in 2015 to counteract the alleged corporate recklessness of AI development.

So what’s in these papers?

The 100-page document cites the possibility of wrongdoers adding new avenues to existing human-powered threats, through drones, self-driving cars, and advanced “spear-phishing” scams.

Scenarios in the report include autonomous explosives, “total surveillance,” and the rapid spread of dangerous misinformation — all of which experts recommend combatting with more transparency and more regulation.

Conflict of interest… ya think?

Musk has long been vocal about the impending dangers the advancement of AI poses on society, saying at one point, AI is “potentially more dangerous than nukes.”

Many have criticized his lofty concerns, calling such extreme claims from a person of his ilk to be “irresponsible” and “hypocritical” — even Mark Zuckerberg accused him of “fear-mongering.”

As Tesla goes deeper down the rabbit hole of perfecting self-driving cars through AI, this paper sheds light on some of the AI challenges Musk will face, and the conflict of interest he hopes to avoid by forgoing his position at OpenAI.

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