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Elon Musk steps down from OpenAI board to dodge “potential future conflict”

Tesla and SpaceX CEO departs the company he co-founded

Elon Musk smiling

Elon Musk has a difficult relationship with artificial intelligence. The PayPal billionaire turned space pioneer and electric car mogul believes that AI is more dangerous than North Korea and might start World War 3, but also reckons that humans' best hope of survival is to meld with it. If you can't beat it, join it.

Despite or perhaps because of this, Musk co-founded Open AI back in 2015. The nonprofit is an artificial intelligence research company that aims to keep tabs with AI development, but now it will be doing so with less day to day involvement from Musk himself. The company has announced that he will be stepping down from the OpenAI board, but will "continue to donate and advise the organisation."

The fairly major change is just a small footnote at the end of a first paragraph announcing new donors to the project, and offers just a single explanatory sentence: "As Tesla continues to become more focused on AI, this will eliminate a potential future conflict for Elon."

How focused Tesla is on AI is open to debate. To date, its usage has been described by Musk as narrow, utilised mainly in cars' autopilot software which provides autonomous decisions from the vehicle without driver input.

Still, even without Musk at the helm, enthusiasm for the nonprofit seems to be growing. The same blog post announces a whole bunch of new donors from differing fields, including Valve's Gabe Newell, Skype founder Jaan Tallinn and Olympians Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton. OpenAI sees this broadening base of funders as essential as it increases investment in "our people and the compute resources necessary to make consequential breakthroughs in artificial intelligence."

Image credit: Bigstock

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