BY BYSTEVE MOLLMAN
One of the keys to success might be figuring out which rules you should follow and which you should disregard. but in setting up the OpenAI, the founders chose to ignore the key rules to follow, report, Bysteve Moliman for Fortune.
Consider OpenAI. Founded in 2015, the A.I. venture behind ChatGPT and GPT-4 is already valued at nearly $30 billion. But it could have gone down a very different path if its founders had heeded a key business rule saying companies should focus on products that fill an obvious need, according to president Greg Brockman.
“You’re supposed to have a problem to solve, not a technology in search of the solution,” the OpenAI cofounder told the Possible podcast in an episode published Wednesday.
And, indeed, Brockman and the OpenAI team, including CEO Sam Altman, spent months looking for a problem to solve with their A.I. tools, he admitted.
Brockman said they spent “a couple months just writing down all the different ideas that we could work on for both GPT-3 and for GPT-4…Maybe we could do a medical thing or a legal thing.”
But while focusing on a particular field could have meant carving out a profitable niche, it would have meant pouring their time and energy into one area.
“We could become a company selling to hospitals, but you really got to get serious about being a company selling to hospitals, and that’s what you are,” Brockman noted.
OpenAI’s founders had something bigger on their minds: the eventual arrival of artificial general intelligence, by which they mean “highly autonomous systems that outperform humans at most economically valuable work.”
As it states in its charter, OpenAI’s mission is to ensure that AGI “benefits all of humanity…We will attempt to directly build safe and beneficial AGI, but will also consider our mission fulfilled if our work aids others to achieve this outcome.”
Specializing in one field, Brockman said on the podcast, “just felt like we’d have to give up on the AGI dream.”
Pursuing that bigger objective spurred OpenAI to avoid specializing in one field and ignore the rule about having a problem to solve—to great success, it turned out.
“I think my conclusion from the fact that it seems to be working is that I think A.I. might just be different from that, because it’s like every company, every individual, every business is a language business,” said Brockman. “It has language flows deeply baked in. So if you can add a little bit of value in existing language workflows, then it will just be able to be adopted so broadly.”
Bank of America wrote in a recent report: “We are at a defining moment—like the internet in the ’90s—where artificial intelligence is moving towards mass adoption, with large language models like ChatGPT finally enabling us to fully capitalize on the data revolution.”
Big-name investors have flocked to OpenAI, which began as a nonprofit in 2015 and in 2019 switched to a hybrid “capped-profit” model, citing the need for computing resources and the right talent. Soon after that, Microsoft began investing billions of dollars into it. And according to reporting by TechCrunch last week, venture capital firms including Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive, and K2 Global have bought shares of OpenAI, putting the company’s valuation in the range of $27 billion to $29 billion. (source: fortune)