Elon Musk last year stated that he wanted to keep an eye on artificial intelligence, but not from the standpoint of trying to make returns on an investment. About a year later, Musk and fellow entrepreneur Sam Altman, on Friday, launched a new non-profit organization to do just that.

"We believe AI should be an extension of individual human wills and, in the spirit of liberty, as broadly and evenly distributed as is possible safely," OpenAI says.

Musk and Altman will be joined by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists Greg Brockman, Jessica Livingston, Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, YC Research, Infosys and Amazon Web Services in pledging $1 billion. Despite a group of founders that wouldn't look out of place on a shark tank, OpenAI stresses that this effort is unguided by financial motivations.

"Researchers will be strongly encouraged to publish their work, whether as papers, blog posts, or code, and our patents (if any) will be shared with the world," OpenAI says. "We'll freely collaborate with others across many institutions and expect to work with companies to research and deploy new technologies."

It can be difficult to grasp just how much society stands to gain from human-level AI, and it's just as hard to fathom just how much damage it could do to society if it isn't programmed correctly, reasoned OpenAI.

"Because of AI's surprising history, it's hard to predict when human-level AI might come within reach," says OpenAI. "When it does, it'll be important to have a leading research institution which can prioritize a good outcome for all over its own self-interest."

Last year Musk famously likened research into AI to summoning the demon. While not against super intelligent AI outright, Musk has called for caution in developing and deploying it.

"If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it's probably [artificial intelligence]," Musk said last year at MIT. "So we need to be very careful. I'm increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don't do something very foolish."

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