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20 Facts About OpenAI You May Have Never Heard About

People in the AI community will most likely associate OpenAI with ChatGPT and Dall-E. While that’s true, there’s so much more about OpenAI that is still not known to many. Here’s some things we dug up
Updated March 13, 2024
an image with the words “OpenAI Facts”, generated with Midjourney
an image with the words “OpenAI Facts”, generated with Midjourney

If OpenAI were a city, ChatGPT and Dall-E would be its most visible skylines. However, if we look at its aerial view, we’ll see that there’s just a lot more to discover. A lot of sneaky stuff under the surface has been going on since its inception – and the water is only getting murkier.

OpenAI is a giant in the AI world, towering over its competitors. And as we know it, this AI research company is one of the main drivers of innovation and advances in today’s technology. In this article, we’ll unfold some interesting facts about the background, history, contributions, issues, and programs of OpenAI.

First, What’s Their Goal?

Their main objective is to build an artificial general intelligence (AGI) that is way smarter than humans, not to outsmart us but to assist in various tasks ranging from content creation, programming, and so much more, by making them a lot easier and beneficial for our kind.

More than that, OpenAI is one of the few prevailing voices in the responsible deployment and safe use of AI. Despite them pushing further the boundaries of current technologies, they still consider the consequences and overall impact of AI on humanity—both good and bad.

The Birth and Growth of OpenAI

How did OpenAI begin and why was it started in the first place? Here’s the story behind OpenAI and how they got to where they are now.

Lowkey Beginnings

Way back in 2015 on the 11th day of December, a small group of AI enthusiasts, aspirants, and researchers founded a company, which as you can tell is now called OpenAI. It was formed by Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, the multi-billionaire guy Elon Musk who already left three years later, and a few more co-founders and Y Combinator, Amazon Web Services, and Infosys representatives.

Would you believe me if I told you that apart from launching OpenAI, Sam Altman, its CEO, was contemplating running for California governor? Yes, that’s true. His aspiration to transform the world with intelligent machines emerged victorious though, leading to this newfound world of AI we live in today.

Though there’s no exact answer to what could’ve happened to OpenAI if Sam Altman had decided to pursue the government position in California, what I found upon research is that OpenAI thrived in its earlier years—quietly. It’s not that its name was completely obscure to the public, but rather, OpenAI focused on research much more than marketing its AI products.

From Non-Profit to For-Profit

OpenAI started as a non-profit organization. Even without much financial gain at first, they stayed true to their commitment to building models that are ethically beneficial for humanity. It was indeed a cause over cash matter—just OpenAI simply working toward their mission to create a safe world for people with artificial intelligence.

In 2019, the team saw its potential, so they turned it into a capped-profit company. Without losing sight of purpose, developing powerful and safe AI remains OpenAI’s utmost priority.

Receiving $1 Billion Investment from Microsoft

Around the same year OpenAI became a for-profit company, Microsoft generously invested $1 billion in the AI research organization. Microsoft has had high confidence in OpenAI and even used its GPT-based products in Office Suite and GitHub.

Hitting a Major Milestone—$2 Billion Revenue

Despite its few years of existence in the AI space, OpenAI has unlocked a major achievement financially as it reached the $2 billion mark in annual revenue in December 2023. OpenAI also believes that it can double the amount of this revenue by 2025.

AI Products, Work, and Projects

From its earliest GPT to its GPT-4 model, OpenAI has made quite a progress in developing large language models (LLMs); ChatGPT and Dall-E are a clear testimony to that. Because of OpenAI’s breakthroughs and contributions to the field of artificial intelligence, it gained traction worldwide.

Not many are aware of its other products though, so here are some of them besides ChatGPT and Dall-E.

Dactyl—A Robot Hand

Dactyl is one of OpenAI’s works on AI to take a physical form; it’s a robot hand that can do almost everything a human can do. Unlike a normal, ordinary person though, this robot hand, which was built in 2018, can do tasks with extremely good dexterity and precision.

OpenAI’s Dactyl can solve a Rubik’s cube, write, draw, or literally anything that requires fine motor skills. It’s also equipped with a high-resolution camera that can recognize objects.

Whisper—OpenAI’s Recognition System

Whisper is an automatic speech recognition system by OpenAI initially released in September 2022. It converts spoken words into English texts. Since it’s a multilingual platform, it can understand the nuances in various languages, as well as diverse accents. It can also distinguish background noise from the main audio and ignore it.

Codex—Their AI Tool for Coding

OpenAI Codex allows you to write a computer program without coding it yourself by simply instructing it to do so for you. In short, you can prompt Codex to develop systems using only the natural language that we normally speak. If you want to build a website, just tell Codex to code it. If you want to develop an FPS game, simply ask it and it will create the game faster than any human developer.

This—in fact—is the model behind GitHub Copilot, an AI developer tool that offers auto-complete suggestions to users in programming. This system is proficient in more than a dozen programming languages, including Python, Java, PHP, Ruby, Go, and Perl.

The First AI Gamer by OpenAI

AI is no longer just for language and image processing, recognition systems, and such, as it has entered the gaming space. OpenAI introduces its capable AI gamer powered by a team of five neural networks, giving it the name, OpenAI Five.

OpenAI Five is the first of its kind—an AI that can play and win in complex video games like DOTA 2. It even defeated the world champions of the said game in 2019. Impressive, right?

OpenAI Playground

It’s like ChatGPT and Codex, in a way it can generate texts, content, and code for you. However, this platform has so much more to offer, including but not limited to allowing users to experiment with different AI models and customize functions to improve the quality of AI responses. So technically, OpenAI Playground is another chatbot by OpenAI, but with some customization tools.

Robosumo—The “Ring” for Fighting Robots

Do you know that OpenAI has a sumo wrestling simulation environment for AI agents or robots? Well, OpenAI created this simulated “ring” to test and train the controls and algorithms of the competing robots, where the goal is to take the opponent out of the ring or disable its movement—maybe brutally. Regardless of how one wins though, the reason for this setup is to further its reinforcement learning.

The OpenAI Robosumo also provides a customizable platform for changing rules and physics engines. It even has touch sensors and proximity sensors that allow the robots to sense, adapt, and adjust to their physical surroundings.

GPT Store for AI Assistants

OpenAI has a lot to offer for us, indeed. Just this January 2024, they launched the GPT Store that enables anyone, especially developers, to create, publish, and share customized AI assistants called GPTs with other users and yes, they can definitely use them as they wish. More than that, it allows you to develop GPTs even without the coding skills.

The Q* (Q-star) Project

There have been some wild speculations about one of OpenAI’s most recent breakthroughs in December 2023 called the Q* (Q-star) Project. This project of OpenAI features a new model called Q* that can solve complex math problems at the grade-school level, which models that came before are still struggling with even to this day.

Given that scenario, this high level of analytical skill of Q* points to the speculations that it’s leaning toward artificial general intelligence (AGI), a more advanced AI that can match or surpass human intelligence. Some people think that ‘Q’ means quantum computing plays a role in development, while others believe that the model relies on Q-learning, a type of reinforcement learning algorithm.

Their Text-to-Video Model Called Sora (New!)

Nothing can truly stop OpenAI; just this February 2024, they launched a new generative AI called Sora. Sora is a state-of-the-art AI model that generates videos from text. And it’s not just some presentations, slide videos, or animated ones—you can create realistic films using this platform! I was actually astonished while watching a few of their samples (I would start questioning everything now).

Kidding aside, just like in ChatGPT, AI image generators, and other generative AI tools, all you have to do is write a prompt and then have Sora create the video for you. As we can expect, this new disruptive AI can take a toll on the filmmaking industry and escalate the spread of fake videos. In addition, this triggers China for not being at the top of competition in the realm of AI.

Controversies and Some Drama

In AI history, one sure thing is that OpenAI has been an integral part of it. Despite them having invaluable contributions to the field of AI and our world, they’re not perfect. In fact, they’ve been involved in some issues and serious cases.

Accused of Copyright Infringement

In 2022, a group of anonymous developers who are copyright owners of the codes in GitHub filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and its partner, Microsoft. OpenAI and Microsoft were accused of ignoring the open-source software licenses for the commercial use of GitHub codes, hence violating the rights of the developers.

Allegedly Underpaying their Content Moderators

Do you ever wonder why ChatGPT doesn’t ever give you rude or inappropriate responses? Well, the answer to that is that some human moderators are filtering out all the toxic data from its massive training datasets. Yes, all of it.

Undeniably, ChatGPT is great, but sometimes, it still makes mistakes. So, OpenAI has human moderators working on the side to ensure the quality of its responses. However, in January 2023, there were reports that OpenAI was outsourcing content moderators to Kenya, which is a developing country, and paying them less than $2 an hour. Nothing was heard from the company about the issue since then.

Firing their CEO

OpenAI fired CEO Sam Altman on November 17, 2023. The reason? He was “inconsistent” in his communication, as per the board of directors (BOD). The BOD believed that it could be a major barrier to his effective leadership and guidance of OpenAI.

Mira Murati, the chief technology officer of OpenAI, was appointed to take on the role. It didn’t last long though as OpenAI welcomed back Sam Altman on November 29. That wasn’t even two weeks yet.

Programs Launched

OpenAI has raised some programs that have brought together people in the AI community from around the world. Some of these are:

AI Governance Program Awarding $100,000 Grants

The goal of this grant program by OpenAI in 2023 is to promote innovations in AI governance. Participants were tasked to develop and propose a proof of concept for a democratic process in safeguarding and ruling the behaviors of AI systems. Winning teams were said to receive $100,000 each, as a grant award by OpenAI.

Converge (A Five-Week Program)

OpenAI launched Converge to encourage founders, developers, and like-minded individuals to transform and shape the world's future with cutting-edge technology. OpenAI aims to promote the development of innovative AI systems that will further advance global industries.

The first two weeks of the program took place in December 2022, and the next three weeks in January 2023. OpenAI offered several workshops in San Francisco to accommodate the participants in the program and covered the travel fees for those who needed it.

Cybersecurity Grant Program

OpenAI also launched a program dedicated to cybersecurity using AI. The goal of the program is to help defenders bolster the protection of their digital assets against improving attackers through AI-powered cybersecurity systems. Currently, as of February 2024, the program is still accepting applications.

Residency Program

OpenAI Residency is a program aimed at connecting the world of AI with other worlds around it—that is mathematics, engineering, physics, and neuroscience, to name a few. It was designed to fill the current gaps in research by inviting people from different existing industries to learn and incorporate AI into their field of work and guiding them in transitioning into a more powerful future.

Wrapping Up

Being at the forefront of the world’s innovation, OpenAI must be constantly up to something new that has never been spoken about as there must be a lot going on inside their heads. Everything about OpenAI now and their creations do not just stop here. So definitely, there are still more stories to unfold.

For now, I hope this article has helped you learn more about what OpenAI allows us to know. But I’m pretty sure, they’re about to do even more things that will again make a noise—another interesting fact to talk about.

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Written by Dianne
Dianne writes about many of the latest trends in artificial intelligence and how they can apply to helping out your business
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