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Artificial intelligence is for all: Sikka

Commits $1 billion for OpenAI, a not for profit artificial intelligence (AI) research company

BS Reporter  |  Bengaluru 

Vishal Sikka
Vishal Sikka (Photographer: Saggere Radhakrishna)

Infosys’ Chief Executive Officer Vishal Sikka said he was clear that artificial intelligence was for all when India’s second largest information technology services company decided to fund open innovation in the area. OpenAI, which was launched on Friday, is also supported by Amazon Web Services; Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla; and Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal.

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, and Sam Altman and Jessica Livingston, both from Y Combinator, have committed to the funding as well. “In total, these funders have committed $1 billion, although we expect to only spend a tiny fraction of this in the next few years,” the newly formed company announced in a blog post.In a blog post written earlier today, Sikka said the proposal to build an open ecosystem for AI came from Altman.

“Sam asked me if I would be okay with the fact that such an endeavor would be untethered and would produce results generally in the greater interests of humanity, and he was somewhat surprised by my reaction. That indeed I would only support this venture if such an openness was a fundamental requirement!” said Sikka, a PhD in artificial intelligence from Stanford University.

“Indeed, endeavours such as agriculture, and science, show that when we share, we improve all of us. As Newton once said, ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants’,” he said.

“If complex systems are not open, not open to be used, extended, and learned about, they end up becoming yet another mysterious thing for us, ones that we end up praying to and mythifying. The more open we make AI, the better,” he added.

OpenAI has roped in Ilya Sutskever, a former Google research scientist, as research director. Greg Brockman, a former chief technology officer at payments startup Stripe, has joined as chief technology officer.

“I am really excited that Sam, Elon Musk, and others -- including Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, and Amazon Web Services, and Infosys, of course -- are supporting this great endeavour, and in addition to Alan, a great set of leaders will serve as advisers,” Sikka said.

Sikka said the transformation at Infosys was largely driven by automation with AI being its backbone. “And just as AI helps us automate the more mundane parts of our work, AI training and building and using AI systems can help amplify our abilities, can free us to exercise more of our creativity, our humanity,” he added.

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First Published: Tue, December 15 2015. 00:42 IST