Ilya Sutskever, one of OpenAI’s most important co-founders, started a new artificial intelligence (AI) company barely a month after he quit the ChatGPT parent company. He has named the new firm Safe Superintelligence (SSI Inc.) and the focus on “safety” cannot be missed here. Reportedly, Sutskever quit OpenAI as he and Sam Altman had differing opinions about how OpenAI should balance growth while ensuring AI stays safe for humanity.

Ex-OpenAI engineer Daniel Levy and former Y Combinator partner Daniel Gross worked with Sutskever to cofound SSI together. In its release, SSI said, “Building safe superintelligence (SSI) is the most important technical problem of our time.” It said that the company’s investors and business model are aligned to achieve safe superintelligence.

The release added, “We approach safety and capabilities in tandem, as technical problems to be solved through revolutionary engineering and scientific breakthroughs. We plan to advance capabilities as fast as possible while making sure our safety always remains ahead.”

Safety Concerns Over AI

Sutskever and many other AI critics have multiple genuine concerns amid the advancements of AI. It threatens to harm privacy in the short term and, in the long term, it could take over the world. The privacy fears were well illustrated when Microsoft revealed its new “Recall” feature for Copilot+ PCs at its Build conference event last month. The feature will record essentially everything you do on your PC to enable it to retrieve snapshots for you, enabling a potentially massive breach of privacy. After much online furor, Microsoft announced that it won’t be a default feature on the device.

Apple perhaps learned from that saga and, at the Worldwide Developer Conference earlier this month, said that safety would be the core of Apple Intelligence, even as it delivers personalized experiences. Apple Intelligence would run on several large language models (LLMs) many of which would run on the device itself.

According to SSI, “Our singular focus means no distraction by management overhead or product cycles, and our business model means safety, security, and progress are all insulated from short-term commercial pressures.”

SSI It Putting a Lot of Focus on Safety

While Sutskever hasn’t revealed the company’s investors and financial backers, speaking with Bloomberg’s Ashlee Vance he said that the company “will be fully insulated from the outside pressures of having to deal with a large and complicated product and having to be stuck in a competitive rat race.”

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how the company advances in AI while not getting “distracted” by commercial pressures as investors have been quite demanding of the companies.

OpenAI Also Started as a Non-Profit AI Company

Incidentally, even OpenAI also started as a nonprofit but later became a for-profit company as it received billions of dollars in investments, including from Microsoft.

Elon Musk – another OpenAI confounder – has criticized OpenAI for transforming from a non-profit company to a “maximum profit” company. He has good reason to be upset as he donated tens of millions of dollars before it shifted to a non-profit (meaning that he got absolutely nothing for his money).

The billionaire has since disassociated himself from OpenAI and has started his own AI company which incidentally raised $6 billion late last month which gave the OpenAI competitor a valuation of a mammoth $24 billion.

Sutskever Backed Sam Altman’s Sacking

Sutskever was among those who backed Sam Altman’s sacking as OpenAI’s CEO. This mistake quickly turned into a tornado of controversy and chaos as most OpenAI employees threatened to quit if Altman wasn’t reinstated. In just a few days, Altman was brought back as CEO and Sutskever apologized for participating in the board’s action to remove him.

However, his position at OpenAI apparently became untenable after the incident. Meanwhile, the timing of his departure raised eyebrows, as it came just a day after OpenAI launched a new AI model along with a desktop version of ChatGPT.

Now with Sutskever starting his own AI company, the competition could heat up as SSI seems to put “safety” and “security” as its USPs at a time when individuals, institutions, as well as governments are getting wary of the emerging technology.