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Elon Musk is leaving the board of OpenAI



A prominent tech nonprofit called OpenAI announced that Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a co-founder and occasional A.I. fearmonger, is leaving its board.

Musk said in 2014 that AI is “potentially more dangerous than nukes,” and when OpenAI was introduced in December 2015, Musk and other organizers played up the organization’s intent to develop technology that could help people and focus on safety.

“As Tesla continues to become more focused on AI, this will eliminate a potential future conflict for Elon,” OpenAI wrote in a blog post. The organization said that Musk will continue to advise and donate to the nonprofit.

Researchers affiliated with the organization regularly publish AI research papers and release source code for other people to use. Unlike Tesla — and companies like Facebook and Google that conduct extensive AI research — OpenAI doesn’t sell any products.

Elon Musk is known for taking on one world-changing tech challenge after another. Besides serving as the CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla, he also co-founded Hyperloop, which develops super fast tube-transportation systems, the Boring Company which digs tunnels, and the brain science venture, Neuralink.

It may come as a relief to investors that he is taking back the two percent of his time that he previously said he spent on OpenAI, to focus on things like launching re-usable rockets, and getting all the electric — and autonomous — vehicles he’s promised into customers’ hands.

In the fall of 2016, Elon Musk promised prospective customers and investors that vehicles with Tesla’s “Hardware 2” (HW 2.0) sensors would be capable of fully autonomous driving with software upgrades in 2019. So far, the company has not come close to delivering a level 5 self-driving system. Nobody has.

Tesla has also made tweaks to the hardware that enables its advanced driver-assistive features.

The EV maker is also seen as lagging the competition — especially Alphabet-owned Waymo and GM-owned Cruise — when it comes to real-world test drives of its self-driving cars in its home state of California. However, Tesla has stated that it is conducting test drives out of state, at closed tracks and via simulation, instead.

In June Tesla hired a prominent AI researcher, Andrej Karpathy, away from OpenAI and made him its head of AI and Autopilot vision. In December Karpathy was present when Musk talked publicly for the first time about Tesla’s plans for special chips that are designed to handle AI workloads. Google and Intel have also developed AI chips.

Musk has also invested in other AI companies, DeepMind and Vicarious.

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Business leaders must prioritize workers’ mental health in lockdown: CEO



Rising coronavirus infection rates, and the accompanying wave of lockdowns across Europe, should prompt managers to spend more time considering their employees’ mental health, according to the CEO of staffing group Adecco

“Especially with … the second wave of lockdowns coming in, we need more emotionally intelligent leaders, because we see that many people are suffering,” Alain Dehaze told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Monday.

Countries including the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and France are currently in lockdown or have extended restrictions, with some expected to last beyond the end of the month. Lockdowns were first implemented last year when the coronavirus pandemic hit the region in early 2020, and have been reinstated as virus infection rates have risen during fall and winter.

Workers have reported worsening mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an Adecco-commissioned survey of 8,000 office-based staff in eight countries, Dehaze added. 

“We have seen in our survey that 28% of employees … say their mental health got worse during the pandemic, and that only one in 10 managers exceeded employees’ expectations in supporting them. This soft skill will be extremely important to make sure that in this new world, managers and leaders are taking care of their people in the right way,” he said.

Adecco expects permanent, white-collar jobs to decline this year, such as payroll workers, with more of a focus on temporary roles.

“Employers have the challenge to have the right talent at the right time … but unfortunately, for some of them, [the pandemic] means they will have to lay off people and then it will be very important that government but also employers and individuals are investing in reskilling and upskilling themselves to remain competitive.”

Employees want to spend around half of their working time in the office and half at home (once restrictions are lifted), according to Adecco’s survey. “Human interactions are still valued. And these figures of 50-50 really transcends geography, generation, parental status. So, it’s really a kind of new universal ideal,” Dehaze said.

“Hybrid work is here to stay … it creates (a) more inclusive workplace, especially for people with disabilities, or working parents.”

Adecco’s revenue was down 28% in the second quarter of 2020 and it fell 15% in its third quarter and Dehaze said he expects its revenue to continue to improve as lockdowns become less restrictive. “Governments have learned from this first lockdown not to close everything and keep the economy going and protect the labor employment by doing ‘intelligent’ lockdown(s).”

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Tesla CEO donates to carbon capture technology prize



GRUENHEIDE, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 03: Tesla head Elon Musk talks to the press as he arrives to to have a look at the construction site of the new Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin on September 03, 2020 near Gruenheide, Germany. Musk is currently in Germany where he met with vaccine maker CureVac on Tuesday, with which Tesla has a cooperation to build devices for producing RNA vaccines, as well as German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier yesterday.

Maja Hitij | Getty Images

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has announced that he is donating $100 million towards a prize for the best technology that can capture carbon dioxide.

Musk, who overtook Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to become the world’s richest person this month, made the announcement on Twitter late Thursday, saying he would share more details next week.

“Am donating $100M towards a prize for best carbon capture technology,” Musk tweeted to his 42.7 million followers.

Carbon capture is the process of trapping waste carbon dioxide either directly from the air, or just before it gets emitted from factories and power plants.

With the latter, the first step is often to install solvent filters on factory chimneys, which catch the carbon emissions before they’re released into the Earth’s atmosphere. Once captured, carbon dioxide can then be shipped or piped somewhere it can’t escape from (often deep underground) to prevent it contributing to global warming.

Most of the captured carbon dioxide remains underground, but some of it can also used to make plastics and fizzy drinks.

Why is carbon capture needed?

Global carbon dioxide emissions have soared over the last 100 years, leading to unprecedented global warming and climate change.

There are currently around 20 carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) projects operating commercially worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency.

The agency said that 30 new projects had been agreed since 2017, but stressed that many more were needed to prevent carbon emissions from raising the temperature on Earth by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The IEA believes CCUS projects could reduce carbon emissions by almost a fifth, while also slashing the cost of tackling the climate crisis by 70%. Adapting heavy industry to run on clean energy is relatively difficult and expensive compared to installing carbon capture systems.

U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged to put more of a focus on cutting emissions than his predecessor and said he wants the U.S. to be carbon neutral by 2050.

‘Plant more trees’

The prize that Musk has said he will contribute to is connected to the Xprize Foundation, TechCrunch reported, citing an anonymous source. The foundation is a nonprofit that puts on competitions to promote and support innovation.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, Musk has a total net worth of $201 billion, while Bezos has $193 billion. Microsoft founder Bill Gates is the next wealthiest person, with a total net worth of $134 billion.

Musk recently asked his Twitter followers what he should do with his money.

“Critical feedback is always super appreciated, as well as ways to donate money that really make a difference (way harder than it seems),” he tweeted Jan. 8.

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