The company wants to "augment" the labor market with AI humanoids.
With all the runaway success it's having with ChatGPT, OpenAI seemingly wants to give its versatile large language models a physical body — and is now throwing its money behind building a humanoid robot worker.
As spotted by New Atlas, OpenAI has invested in Norwegian robotics company 1X (formerly known as Halodi Robotics), leading a recent round of funding through its OpenAI Startup Fund at the end of last month that secured $23.5 million.
"1X is thrilled to have OpenAI lead this round because we're aligned in our missions: thoughtfully integrating emerging technology into people's daily lives," said Bernt Øyvind Børnich, CEO and founder of 1X, in a statement.
"With the support of our investors, we will continue to make significant strides in the field of robotics and augment the global labor market."
A lateral investment in robotics marks a notable change for OpenAI, which has steered clear of anything mechanical since shutting down its own robotics division in 2021. Famously, the company's initial robotics foray managed to produce an artificial, humanoid hand that could solve a Rubik's cube on its own — an amusing and impressive feat that apparently paled to the company's rapidly rising success with generative AI.
As of now, further details of OpenAI's robotics collaboration with 1X prove elusive. But if one thing's clear, both parties are wholly committed to upending the labor market.
"1X is at the forefront of augmenting labor through the use of safe, advanced technologies in robotics," said OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap, who led the recent round of funding, in the statement. "The OpenAI Startup Fund believes in the approach and impact that 1X can have on the future of work."
"Augment" be damned, the pitch sure sounds like a thinly-veiled attempt to have robots take over the jobs of pesky humans, which isn't a surprising revelation, considering that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has been a fairly vocal proponent for creating an all-powerful, artificial general intelligence that will both surpass human intelligence and "benefit all of humanity."
We still don't really know what the OpenAI-1X collaboration will look like, but we may get an idea as soon as "Summer 2023" — the date 1X has set to finally unveil its bipedal robot called "NEO."
Its arguably nebulous selling point is "AI Embodiment," according to 1X, with a stated goal of designing the robot to "explore how artificial intelligence can take form in a human-like body."
Without more official details, all that jargon sounds an awful lot like 1X playing up its artificial humanoid to be the perfect vessel for OpenAI's large language models.
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