Elon Musk’s Free Training Gym for AI a Love Letter to DevOps


Tesla and SpaceX leader Elon Musk wants the world to build smarter, better computers, and he’s willing to be the Gold’s Gym of silicon-pumping AI systems to do it. His “training gym for artificial intelligence” is an overture (and, some may say, love letter) to DevOps, or development operations, machine learning and AI being the driving force behind it. Called the “OpenAI Gym,” it works as an open source tool to motivate developers on a global scale to teach computer systems more effective ways to learn, utilizing complex reasoning and development strategies. Musk is funding the $1 billion non-profit AI workout facility as a philanthropic gesture and show of good faith, following his statements during an MIT symposium in 2014 that “With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon,” and that AI could be “our biggest existential threat.”


Programming the Learning AI

The OpenAI Gym will allow programmers to train their bots to master such things as the ancient Chinese game of Go, Atari games such as Pac Man, and learning how to walk, all via something known as Reinforcement Learning (RL), through a process that mimics human motor and cognitive development. As AI development advances at the Gym, programmers will even push AI capabilities via such tasks as driving (simulated) cars. Originally designed only for closed-group or internal use, OpenAI is now beta-launching the Gym concept to the masses. Musk’s spirit of open collaboration found in the Gym will likely lead to some major AI advances, which Elon himself will most likely incorporate into things like his Tesla cars.

AI vs. Human Development

One wonders if the same strident ambition were being applied to human development as to that of AI, would we even need to be pushing AI so hard? One also wonders, “What’s wrong with human intelligence, capacity, and capabilities that we require AI advancement to such a pronounced degree?” Perhaps it could merely be seen as an augmenting tool to complement human ingenuity, though the jury’s still out on that. While Elon Musk has made his cautionary utterances about AI, at the same time he and his partners are fully embracing the artificial nature of it – as opposed to naturally-occurring things. Beware, indeed.

They’ve Got His Back

Musk’s ambitious non-profit AI gym project is backed by other Web-based luminaries such as PayPal founder Peter Thiel, Amazon, Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, Stripe’s CTO Greg Brockman (who is leaving Stripe to go full-time with OpenAI Gym), and the seed accelerator Y-Combinator founders Sam Altman and Jessica Livingston as well. Again, one has to wonder at the motivations and intentions of these Young Turk entrepreneurs.

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