SpaceX and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk have joined forces with other high-profile tech entrepreneurs to support a $1bn project to crack artificial intelligence.
The OpenAI venture, backed by Google holding company Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon, hopes to boost development of intelligent computing to the extent that it could augment human capabilities, but not exceed them.
"Our goal is to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return," the project’s proponents wrote in a blog post on OpenAI's website.
Musk, who together with venture capitalist Sam Altman co-chairs the project, previously warned that artificial intelligence could be humanity’s ‘biggest existential threat’.
The institute will advance the so-called 'deep machine learning', which relies on designing general architectures that can adjust themselves based on the problems they encounter. This approach has delivered promising results in many fields including object and speech recognition or machine translation.
“But we've also started to see what it might be like for computers to be creative, to dream, and to experience the world,” the researchers said.
As they deem the arrival of artificial intelligence inevitable, the OpenAI researchers want to make sure that the technology delivers ‘a good outcome for all over its own self-interest’.
"AI is too important a technology to be dedicated to things like ad targeting or ordering things in a news feed," said Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a non-profit organisation established in 2014 by Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen.
The institute said it would only spend a ‘tiny fraction’ of the $1bn sum raised in the next few years. In addition to Musk, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel as well as LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman have contributed funds.