- OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said he had to “reorient a lot of my life and time” after Elon Musk left the company.
- Musk stepped down from OpenAI’s board in 2018, reportedly after his bid to take over was rejected.
- Since ChatGPT’s launch, Musk’s has criticized OpenAI for prioritizing profits over AI safety.
Elon Musk’s 2018 departure from OpenAI — the company behind ChatGPT — rocked the artificial intelligence organization, according to a sweeping new report from The New Yorker.
“It was very tough,” OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said. “I had to reorient a lot of my life and time to make sure we had enough funding.”
In 2015, Musk, Altman, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel joined with a number of other tech leaders to found OpenAI as a nonprofit initiative to “advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity.”
It is estimated that Musk poured between $50 million to $100 million of his own funds into OpenAI, The New Yorker reported.
In 2018, Musk left the company’s board. At the time, he cited a conflict of interest with Tesla, but earlier this year, Semafor reported Musk departed OpenAI after his bid to run the company was rejected.
“Basically, he goes, ‘You’re all a bunch of jackasses,’ and he leaves,” Hoffman told The New Yorker.
When he stepped down, Musk also backed out of his commitment to continue funding OpenAI, a source told The New Yorker, which left Altman scrambling.
OpenAI, which now has a for-profit arm, has become a household name since launching its generative AI chatbot ChatGPT in November.
After the chatbot’s release, Microsoft invested $10 billion into OpenAI, and it raised another $495 million from venture capital firms like Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive, and K2 Global in April.
While he still takes credit the company’s existence, Musk has slammed OpenAI for becoming a “maximum profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft.”
Altman has called Musk a “jerk” and “totally wrong” about OpenAI’s prioritization of profits over safety in response.
Musk has also criticized ChatGPT’s “concerning” answers and called AI “one of the biggest risks to the future of civilization.”
Nevertheless, Musk announced his own AI company, xAI, in July. The company’s stated goal is lofty: to “understand the true nature of the universe.”
OpenAI and Musk didn’t respond to Insider’s requests for comment ahead of publication. Musk declined to comment to The New Yorker.
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