Several top tech executives and experts have announced that are to donate $1 billion for OpenAI, a non-profit venture whose sole aim is to develop artificial intelligence (AI) that will be of benefit to the human race.

OpenAI is a non-profit Artificial Intelligence research company. Its stated goal is to help advance ‘digital intelligence’ in the ways most likely to benefit humanity as a species, “unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.”

Prominent backers of the new scheme include Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, Amazon, Infosys, and moat prominently, SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk. Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka said that the $1 billion pledge would help address a “lack of fundamental progress in the field” of AI.”

Member of the OpenAI team

Members of the OpenAI team

“We’re hoping to grow OpenAI into such an institution. As a non-profit, our aim is to build value for everyone rather than shareholders.”

Experts have in recent years voiced concerns about the future of AI. Eminent theoretical physicist  Stephen Hawking warned that Artificial Intelligence could potentially spell the end of mankind by out evolving humans and by being able to “re-design itself at an ever increasing rate.”

Elon Musk, co-chair of the OpenAI project had previously stated his concerns over the future of artificial intelligence, which is part of the reason for and his own personal investment in the not for profit venture. He has previously said that AI was mankind’s “biggest existential threat.”

“Because of AI’s surprising history, it’s hard to predict when human-level AI might come within reach. 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.”

OpenAI says that it will all of its research public and its patents will also be royalty free. This in itself though led to a pertinent question to Musk by Forbes Magazine:

Just how does an open source model prevents “bad guys” from using its A.I. developments for harm?”

Musks’s reply was typical of the pioneering entrepreneur:

“If everyone has AI powers, then there’s not any one person or a small set of individuals who can have AI superpower.”

It is not clear how much money individual donors will be contributing to the OpenAI project, or when, but it is thought that only a fraction of the money is to be spent by the venture in its first few years.

The Website for OpenAI can be found here.