Earlier this year, founder-investor Sam Altman left his high-profile role as the president of Y Combinator to become the CEO of OpenAI, an AI research outfit that was founded by some of the most prominent people in the tech industry in late 2015. The idea: to ensure that artificial intelligence is “developed in a way that is safe and is beneficial to humanity,” as one of those founders, Elon Musk, said back then to the New York Times.
The move is intriguing for many reasons, including that artificial general intelligence — or the ability for machines to be as smart as humans — does not yet exist, with even AI’s top researchers far from clear about when it might. Under the leadership Altman, OpenAI, which was originally a non-profit, has also restructured as a for-profit company with some caveats, saying it will “need to invest billions of dollars in upcoming years into large-scale cloud compute, attracting and retaining talented people, and building AI supercomputers.”
Whether OpenAI is able to attract so much funding is an open question, but our guess is that it will, if for no reason other than Altman himself — a force of nature who easily charmed a crowd during an extended stage interview with this editor Thursday night, in a talk that covered everything from YC’s evolution to Altman’s current work at OpenAI.
On YC, for example, we discussed that leanness and “ramen profitability” was once the goal for graduates of the popular accelerator program but that a newer goal seems to be to immediately raise millions of dollars in venture funding, if not tens of millions of dollars. (“If I could control the market — obviously the free market is going to do its thing — I would not have YC companies raise the amounts of money they raise or at the valuations they do,” Altman told attendees at the small industry event. “I do think it is, on net, bad for the startups.”)
Altman was also candid when asked personal and occasionally corny questions, even offering up a story about the strong relationship he has long enjoyed with mom, who happened to be in town for the event. Not only did he say that she remains one of a small handful of people who he “absolutely” trusts, but he acknowledged that it has become harder over time to get unvarnished feedback from people outside that small circle. “You get to some point in your career where people are afraid to offend you or say something you might not want to hear. I’m definitely aware that I get stuff filtered and planned out ahead of time at this point.”
Certainly, Altman is given more rope than most. Not only was this evidenced in the way that Altman ran Y Combinator for five years — essentially supersizing it time and again — but it’s plain from the way he discusses OpenAI that his current thinking is no less audacious. Indeed, much of what Altman said Thursday night would be considered pure insanity coming from someone else. Coming from Altman, it merely drew raised brows.
Asked for example, how OpenAI plans to make money (we wondered if it might license some of its work), Altman answered that the “honest answer is we have no idea. We have never made any revenue. We have no current plans to make revenue. We have no idea how we may one day generate revenue.”
Continued Altman, “We’ve made a soft promise to investors that, ‘Once we build a generally intelligent system, that basically we will ask it to figure out a way to make an investment return for you.’” When the crowd erupted with laughter (it wasn’t immediately obvious that he was serious), Altman himself offered that it sounds like an episode of “Silicon Valley,” but he added, “You can laugh. It’s all right. But it really is what I actually believe.”
We also asked what it means that, under Altman’s leadership, OpenAI has become a “capped profit” company, with the promise of giving investors up to 100 times their return before giving away excess profit to the rest of the world. We noted that 100x is a very high bar — so high in fact that most investors investing in plain-old for-profit companies seldom get close to a 100x return. For example, Sequoia Capital, the only institutional investor in WhatsApp, reportedly saw 50 times the $60 million it had invested in the company when it sold to Facebook for $22 billion, a stunning return.
But Altman not only pushed back on the idea the idea that “capped profit” is a bit of marketing brilliance, he doubled down on why it makes sense. Specifically, he said that the opportunity with artificial general intelligence is so incomprehensibly enormous that if OpenAI manages to crack this particular nut, it could “maybe capture the light cone of all future value in the universe, and that’s for sure not okay for one group of investors to have.”
He also said that future investors will see their investment capped at a lower return — that OpenAI basically wanted to find a way to reward its earliest backers given the risk they are taking.
Before we parted ways, we also shared with Altman various criticisms by AI researchers who we’d interviewed ahead of our sit-down and who’d complained that, among other things, OpenAI seeks out attention for qualitative and not foundational leaps in already proven work, and that its very mission of discovering a path to “safe” artificial general intelligence needlessly raises alarms and makes their research harder.
Altman absorbed and responded to each point. He wasn’t entirely dismissive of them, either, saying of OpenAI’s alarmist bent, for example, that he does have “some sympathy for that argument.”
Still, Altman insisted there’s a better argument to be made for thinking about — and talking with the media about — the potential societal consequences of AI, no matter how disingenuous some may find it. “The same people who say OpenAI is fear mongering or whatever are the same ones who are saying, ‘Shouldn’t Facebook have thought about this before they did it?’ This is us trying to think about it before we do it.”
You can check out the full interview below. The first half of our chat is largely centered on his Altman’s career at YC, where he remains chairman. We begin discussing OpenAI in greater detail around the 26-minute mark.
How To Find Reused And Compromised Passwords In Safari
The macOS version requirement to use this feature is Big Sur or Monterey, but it worked fine in Catalina, as well. To get started:
1. Launch Safari on your Mac.
2. Once a new Safari window opens, click on Safari in the menu bar and select Preferences from the dropdown menu.
3. You should see a popup menu of Safari preferences — you’ll be under the General section by default. Select Passwords from the top menu to manage your saved passwords.
4. At this point, you’ll have to enter your system password to access your saved passwords.
5. Once you’re in, you’ll see a list of all your stored passwords. If you see a yellow warning icon next to any of the passwords, that means Safari has a security recommendation for it.
6. Tap the warning icon on the password to know its security status. If a password has been overused, if it is easy to guess, or if it has been compromised in a data breach, Safari will add a short comment. There’ll also be a link to the appropriate page so you can change your password (via Apple Support).
Whenever Safari is auto-filling your passwords in any field, you may also get a Compromised Password alert notifying you to change a password because it is weak, reused, or leaked.
This Electric Car Starts At Only $18,500, But You Only Get Three Wheels
The average commute, according to Electra Meccanica, is 40 miles. The Solo comes with 100 miles of range, which is more than enough to do your commute. Evidently, this car isn’t meant for much more than that, but many people — especially those who live in dense urban areas — don’t drive much further than work on a regular basis. Basic items like a briefcase, a few bags of groceries, and a set of gym clothes fit just fine in the back of the Solo.
Obviously, this ideal situation ends if you are a family with only one car. It also begins to lose its purpose if you enjoy a sporty feel because while you do get Bluetooth, USB charging, a rear-view camera, AC, and keyless entry, it isn’t exactly riveting to drive. It has a top speed of 80 mph, which is made possible by its 82 horsepower engine with 128 lb-ft of torque. All this power is sent to the singular rear wheel. It goes from 0-60 mph in 10 seconds, which is simply sluggish by any standard.
The interior of the Solo isn’t draw-dropping, considering the color variety you get is a few different shades of blacks and dark greys. However, the Solo does feature an LCD gauge cluster, which is a nice touch. What’s even nicer is that it comes with a singular heated seat.
This Tesla-Powered BMW EV Combines Classic Styling With Modern Power
One of the last produced examples of BMW’s E9 coupe was sold on Bring a Trailer for over $200,000, which is well within the BMW EV’s price range. But the Tesla-powered BMW CSI also has some historical significance, especially in terms of proper maintenance. It belonged to the late Saudi Arabian Prince Mashour bin Saud, who had four keepers tending to the car when it was purchased in 1978. Aside from having a taste of royalty, the BMW EV was also a rare right-hand drive model. Its paper trail reveals how its registration was changed from the prince’s original “2 BAT” to “BAT 9K,” including handwritten letters to Michael Gardiner, who was tasked with selling the car for him.
In 2019, the BMW 3.0 CSI was bought from Gardiner’s widow and was eventually brought over to established electric conversion specialists at Electric Classic Cars. The company, which successfully converted classics like a 1979 Porsche 911 and the original Volkswagen Beetle, did a complete overhaul on the iconic BMW both inside and out. Furthermore, this classic BMW EV even includes the original straight-six engine should its driver ever feel like going back to gas. Although electric conversion has kept this classic up to speed, let’s look at its other improvements.
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