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Who Owns OpenAI and What's Its Mission?

OpenAI is a research company that aims to promote and develop “friendly” AI that can benefit humanity as a whole. But who are the people behind this ambitious project, and what are their goals and vision for the future of artificial intelligence?


In this blog post, we will give you a brief description of Who Owns OpenAI and What's Its Mission.


Who Owns OpenAI

The History of OpenAI

OpenAI came to life in 2015 in San Francisco as a joint initiative of Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, Wojciech Zaremba, Ilya Sutskever, and John Schulman. The mission was simple but wildly ambitious—develop safe and open AI tools to empower (rather than eradicate) people. The idea was motivated by the desire to build Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) - an AI system that possesses a human-like capacity to reason and apply skills to unfamiliar situations. The founders were concerned about the potential risks of AGI becoming misaligned with human values or falling into the wrong hands.


To avoid these scenarios, they pledged over $1 billion to launch OpenAI as a non-profit organization that would freely collaborate with other institutions and researchers by making its patents and research open to the public.


The company has since spawned an impressive lineup of tools, such as:

  1. DALL-E: an AI image generator that can create realistic images from text prompts

  2. Codex: an AI system that can write code from natural language descriptions

  3. OpenAI Five: an AI team that can play and win the complex video game Dota 2 against human players

  4. ChatGPT: a powerful and eerily unnerving AI chatbot based on the company’s flagship GPT-3 language model.

Last year, OpenAI became the hottest brand in the tech space thanks to ChatGPT, which quickly went viral on social media for its ability to answer questions, write essays, provide customer service, and even help with math homework. But ChatGPT was more than autocomplete on steroids. It was a glimpse into the future of AGI.


The Mission of OpenAI

OpenAI’s mission is to ensure that Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)—by which they mean highly autonomous systems that outperform humans at most economically valuable work—benefits all of humanity.


They aim to build safe and beneficial AGI or to help others achieve this outcome. They also commit to use any influence they obtain over AGI's deployment to ensure it is used for the benefit of all, and to avoid enabling uses of AI or AGI that harm humanity or unduly concentrate power. They are also committed to doing the research required to make AGI safe, and to driving the broad adoption of such research across the AI community.


They seek to cooperate with other research and policy institutions and to provide public goods that help society navigate the path to AGI. To be effective at addressing AGI’s impact on society, OpenAI must be on the cutting edge of AI capabilities—policy and safety advocacy alone would be insufficient.


They believe that AI will have a broad societal impact before AGI, and they’ll strive to lead in those areas that are directly aligned with their mission and expertise.


Who Owns OpenAI

OpenAI has a unique ownership structure that allows it to operate independently while still attracting investment from external parties. Here are the key stakeholders in the organization:

  • Founders: Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, John Schulman, and Wojciech Zaremba are the original founders of OpenAI. They also serve as board members or advisors to the company.

  • Nonprofit: OpenAI Inc. is the parent nonprofit organization that oversees the overall mission, governance, and oversight of OpenAI. It also holds a 2% stake in the for-profit subsidiary.

  • For-profit: OpenAI LP is the for-profit subsidiary that engages in research, development, commercialization, and other core operations of OpenAI. It is legally bound to pursue the nonprofit’s mission and to transfer any excess profits to the nonprofit. It can also issue equity to raise capital and hire talent.

  • Investors: Microsoft, Khosla Ventures, Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, Amazon Web Services, Infosys, and YC Research are some of the investors who have pledged over $1 billion to OpenAI. Microsoft alone has invested $11 billion in OpenAI as of 2023. Investors own 49% of the for-profit subsidiary, with Microsoft holding a 49% stake in OpenAI LP.

  • Employees: OpenAI has about 375 employees as of 2023, who work on various AI projects and products. Employees own 49% of the for-profit subsidiary, with each employee receiving a capped amount of equity based on their role and seniority.


The Future of OpenAI

OpenAI is not resting on its laurels after creating ChatGPT and other groundbreaking AI tools. The company is constantly pushing the boundaries of AI research and development, aiming to achieve its ultimate goal of creating artificial general intelligence.


Some of the current and future projects that OpenAI is working on include:

  • GPT-4: The next iteration of the GPT language model, which is expected to be even more powerful and versatile than ChatGPT. GPT-4 will be able to generate longer and more coherent texts, as well as handle multiple languages, modalities, and domains.

  • DALL-E 2: The improved version of DALL-E, which will be able to generate more realistic and diverse images from text prompts. DALL-E 2 will also be able to handle more complex and abstract concepts, such as metaphors, analogies, and emotions.

  • Whisper: A system for generating 3D point clouds from complex prompts. Whisper will be able to create realistic and detailed models of objects, scenes, and environments from natural language descriptions or sketches.

  • OpenAI Codex 2: The upgraded version of Codex, which will be able to write more sophisticated and robust code from natural language descriptions. Codex 2 will also be able to handle multiple programming languages, frameworks, and domains.

OpenAI is also collaborating with other companies and organizations to apply its AI tools to various domains and challenges. For example:

  • Microsoft Bing + ChatGPT: A partnership between Microsoft and OpenAI to integrate ChatGPT into Bing’s search engine. Users will be able to interact with ChatGPT through a chat mode on Bing’s website or app and get answers, suggestions, or content from the AI chatbot.

  • GitHub + Codex: A partnership between GitHub and OpenAI to launch GitHub Copilot, a coding assistant powered by Codex. Copilot will help developers write code faster and better by suggesting lines or functions based on their context and intent.

  • UNICEF + DALL-E: A partnership between UNICEF and OpenAI to use DALL-E for humanitarian purposes. DALL-E will help UNICEF create visual aids for education, awareness, and advocacy campaigns on various topics such as health, nutrition, sanitation, and child rights.

OpenAI is changing the world with its AI innovations and vision. By pursuing its mission of creating safe and beneficial AGI for humanity, OpenAI hopes to usher in a new era of intelligence that can solve some of the most pressing problems facing our planet.

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