Yann LeCun’s Critical Assessment of OpenAI’s Evolution Under Microsoft’s Influence

December 28, 2023 – In a recent interview with Wired magazine, Yann LeCun, Chief AI Scientist at Meta, launched a scathing critique of OpenAI under the leadership of Sam Altman.

LeCun was candid in his assessment, stating that OpenAI has deviated from its original non-profit mission and has become a “contract research organization” for Microsoft. He remarked, “Now, they are essentially a contract research house for Microsoft, although they maintain some degree of independence.” (Note: “Contract research house” refers to an institution that accepts research contracts from pharmaceutical or biotech companies, providing research services required for drug development, both clinical and non-clinical trials).

OpenAI, initially established as a non-profit organization in 2015, shifted its focus in 2019 by creating a for-profit subsidiary with a maximum investment limit set at 100 times the initial investment amount. Microsoft initially invested $1 billion in OpenAI, which later increased to $13 billion. This decision by OpenAI faced criticism from figures like LeCun and Elon Musk.

LeCun also pointed out that OpenAI is no longer “open,” and he even questioned whether they would be the first company to develop Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). He said, “They believe AGI is on the horizon, and they claim they will develop it sooner than anyone else. But they won’t.”

Furthermore, he criticized OpenAI for veering away from open-source practices and opting for closed-source code. He stated, “This is also one of the reasons why the research community doesn’t have much faith in the founder of ChatGPT.”

Earlier, Sam Altman had reached out to the online community on Christmas Eve to collect expectations for OpenAI in the coming year, with AGI being a primary focus. However, he acknowledged, “Wow, the calls for AGI wishes came in much stronger within the first two minutes than I anticipated. I’m sorry to disappoint, but I don’t think we’ll achieve that goal next year…”

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