It all started in a hotel room in Silicon Valley: this is how the chat that is driving the world crazy was born

It all started in a hotel room in Silicon Valley: this is how the chat that is driving the world crazy was born

The artificial intelligence revolution

Generative AI appears to be the most important technological revolution of recent years, as it may fundamentally change the way we work, learn, create and consume content. Globes dives into the artificial intelligence industry in a series of articles about the technology that until recently sounded futuristic: where algorithms and humans can collaborate, what will be the impact of AI on the economy and everyday life and what are the dangers that should be protected against

In December 2015, five of the most powerful figures in the world of technology and global high-tech gathered in a hotel room in Silicon Valley near San Francisco. Elon Musk, who was already one of the richest people in the world at the time, along with Sam Altman, who was president of the startup accelerator Y Combinator, Peter Thiel, one of the founders of PayPal, Reid Hoffman, who was a co-founder of the social network LinkedIn, and Jessica Livingston, who was a co-founder Y Combinator and wrote a successful book about founding startups. The five agreed to donate a billion dollars jointly and together with additional funds and an investment from Amazon, founded the artificial intelligence company OpenAI.

Sam Altman’s tweet

OpenAI has brought into our lives some of the most talked about products in the technology world in recent decades. The first to break into the public consciousness was the DALL E-2 bot, which is capable of producing complex images and drawings relying only on text commands. When it was published, about a year ago, social networks were filled with paintings of sheep in space in the Picasso style, or unicorns on golden beaches in the baroque style. About two months ago, the company published the Chat GPT, a sophisticated chat that expects natural human language at a very high level. The chat can answer questions, write advertisements and masses of text, and also write lines of code and even software and applications.


Line of Business: Research and construction of advanced artificial intelligence products
history: Founded in 2015 by Elon Musk and other investors. Raised a billion dollars from Microsoft in 2019 and an additional 10 billion dollars (according to estimates) in 2023
data: About 500 employees, located in California, a market valuation of 29 billion dollars

This is how OpenAI became one of the most famous and talked about companies in the world, and the one that brought the artificial intelligence revolution, and especially creative artificial intelligence to the masses. If in the past the interest in the field was mainly reserved for algorithm writers, mathematicians, and deep tech people, now, both marketing and advertising people, human resources and content people are already deep in the cauldron.

Today, especially after Microsoft’s huge investment in the company, the potential profit is clear. However, the original intention of the founders was that OpenAI would be established as a non-profit research body. The company’s overarching goal, as defined in an official OpenAI document, was: “To advance artificial intelligence in a way that is highly likely to benefit humanity as a whole, without the need to generate a financial return. Since we are detached from economic limitations, we can focus on a positive impact on humanity.”

“We believe that artificial intelligence should be a natural continuation of the human being and his desire, in the spirit of freedom, in an equal and broad distribution as possible,” the company continued. “The final product is currently unknown, and the work is difficult, but we believe the goal is right.”

OpenAI’s announcement did not come in a vacuum. A few months before the establishment, Elon Musk publicly warned of the dangers that await the world as a result of the integration of the tools of artificial intelligence. Even with the establishment of the new company, Musk did not hesitate to warn once again: “It is difficult to fully understand how artificial intelligence at the level of humans will benefit society,” he said. “Equally, it is difficult to understand the damage it can cause to society if someone builds it, or uses it, in the wrong way.” In the same year, the scientist and physicist Stephen Hawking also warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence, as well as the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, who claimed: “I am from the camp of the worried, at first the machines will do many tasks for us and will not be super intelligent, this can be positive if we manipulate it correctly. But how Decades later, artificial intelligence will be so strong that it will already be a source of concern.” Bill Gates will again be a key figure in the future of OpenAI.

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Musk left, the business model changed

About a year and a half after its inception, OpenAI has released two new products designed primarily to help teach and train the machine learning models it has developed. Most of the company’s technological knowledge came from its chief scientist, Dr. Ilya Sutzkever, and the team he recruited alongside him. Sutzkever was born in the mid-1980s in the Soviet Union, and completed his first degree in computer science at the Open University in Haifa. After that, he moved with his family to Canada where he completed His doctoral studies Sutzkever is considered one of the world’s experts in the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

In 2018, two upheavals took place. The first was the establishment of another arm of the company, one that would operate for profit. The change came as a result of CEO Sam Altman’s understanding that the existing model would make it difficult to raise capital and meet the enormous hardware needs required to train artificial intelligence models. The company officially changed its mission, but made it clear that it would maintain mechanisms that would ensure that it would continue to operate for the benefit of all humanity.

The limited profit model announced by the company is unique in the global high-tech landscape. The non-profit company has established a subsidiary, which can operate in order to generate profits for investors. In addition, a mechanism was created according to which each investor could earn “only” up to 100 times the amount he invested. For example, someone who invested 10 million dollars in a company, will only be able to earn up to a billion dollars.

Shortly after, came the announcement of one of the main founders, Elon Musk, that he intends to leave the company. The company’s blog post stated, incidentally, that Musk would leave all of his management positions. However, the announcement stated that Musk will continue to contribute and advise the company going forward. The official explanation, as explained in the blog, was that due to new developments in the field of artificial intelligence at Tesla, the electric vehicle company of which Musk is CEO, and the fear of a conflict of interest – he was forced to retire.

A few months after his retirement, in a number of tweets on Twitter (which today is also owned by him), Musk detailed the real reasons, according to him, for the decision to leave the management of OpenAI: “Just to clarify, I have never been very involved in what OpenAI has been doing over the past year, and neither I oversaw the work there. I had to solve a number of technological challenges at Tesla and SpaceX. In addition, Tesla and OpenAI competed in many cases for the same potential employees. I also disagree with some of the things that the OpenAI team wants to do.”

Back in 2018, the company announced that it had developed the early version of the chat we all know today, a version called GPT 2. However, the company announced that because it was afraid that it would be used en masse to spread “fake news”, it did not release the new tool to the public. At a later stage, OpenAI launched a “weakened” version of the chat, with about 8% of the abilities of the original bot.

The relationship with Microsoft and Gates’ supplier

For years Microsoft has been working on developing its artificial intelligence capabilities. The CEO of the technology giant, Satya Nadella, even urged the company’s employees to find new ways to use artificial intelligence in order to optimize Microsoft products. During those years, the CEO of OpenAI, Sam Altman, used to fly frequently to the Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, in order to convince the executives There, to invest in the young company from California.

Many of the company’s executives were enthusiastic about the capabilities presented by OpenAI and pushed for the promotion of cooperation, but the companies had to deal with the person sent on behalf of Microsoft to test the technology – founder and CEO Bill Gates. Gates did not like the technology and expressed doubt about the ability of a machine to understand human language well enough.

Despite Gates’ opposition, the deal went ahead and Microsoft invested about a billion dollars in Altman’s company. Throughout the years of joint work, the relationship between the companies developed, when OpenAI began using Microsoft’s cloud services in order to train and teach its model, and at the same time Microsoft began to integrate some of the artificial intelligence technologies into its products.

Earlier this week, Microsoft confirmed the rumors and reports published in recent weeks and announced that it will invest billions of dollars in OpenAI over the next few years. Microsoft’s announcement did not specify the value of the deal, but various publications reported that the Seattle-based company would invest $10 billion, an amount that would reflect a market value of $29 billion for the artificial intelligence company.

Microsoft also confirmed that it intends to integrate OpenAI technology into some of its flagship products such as Word, Outlook and Power Point, as well as to allow access to artificial intelligence capabilities in its cloud services – Azure.

The expected developments in the coming months

Meanwhile, the company is preparing for the launch of the new and even more sophisticated model of ChatGPT. The company refused to comment on the exact date when the new model will be released to the general public, but claimed that it can be expected to happen in the coming months.

At the same time, the CEO of OpenAI, Sam Altman, revealed in press interviews that the company is already working on their new product, which will be able to produce invested and original videos using only text commands. The predictions are that we will be able to see the new tool already during this year.

Finally, the company is working to develop tools that can identify texts written using artificial intelligence. In the past, the company published GPT-0, which can recognize such texts, but it was at a relatively low level and could be manipulated through simple manipulations. The announcements about the new tools began to emerge mainly following criticism that school and university students were using the advanced chat to cheat on their assignments. And also after Check Point published a study that found that hackers use the artificial intelligence chat for malicious purposes. Thus, a little more than seven years after that meeting in a hotel room in Silicon Valley, the question that resonates perhaps the loudest of all is whether the five hi-techists succeeded in their mission: “to promote artificial intelligence in a way that there is a high probability that it will benefit humanity as a whole.”


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