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Elon Musk Steps Down From Open Source AI Group

Musk is leaving the ethical AI organization he founded only two years ago.
Image: Daniel Oberhaus/Motherboard

Elon Musk will be stepping down from his role as chair of the board for OpenAI, a nonprofit organization he co-founded with Y-Combinator CEO Sam Altman in late 2015.

Musk’s departure was announced late Monday evening in an OpenAI blog post about new donors for the organization.

“Elon Musk will depart the OpenAI Board but will continue to donate and advise the organization,” the announcement reads. “As Tesla continues to become more focused on AI, this will eliminate a potential future conflict for Elon.”

Musk, Altman, and a number of other titans of Silicon Valley including Peter Thiel founded OpenAI with the goal of creating open-source AI platforms to “benefit humanity.” At the time of its founding, the organization had raised over $1 billion in funding.

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In the last two years, OpenAI has participated in a number of research projects, including developing an AI platform that was able to briefly beat humans at Dota 2 in a very narrow context. It also aimed to teach AI about life by crowdsourcing data from thousands of video games.

At the same time, Tesla is creating self-driving cars that rely heavily on artificial intelligence to do their thing. Musk has said he expects the cars to be fully autonomous by next year. It’s uncertain why Musk foresaw a conflict of interest between Tesla and OpenAI arising now versus two years ago.