No matter, ... how well subordinated the love of power, the need of it for effective worldly action is a corrupting reality which will not disappear from the human scene until the Messianic era.
--- Maurice Samuel, Certain People of the Book

O OpenAI is come out of the west.
Its ambitions are always the noblest and best.
Its goal is to be the world's ultimate saver
With AGI crafted by Ilya Sutskever.
With mission so cool, it's no mystery why
Folks are eager to labor for OpenAI.

From the very beginning, they said that they would
Always focus their efforts on humankind's good.
And as a non-profit they were not concerned
With trying to maximize money they earned.
Their praiseworthy charter declares that they see
Their primary duty to humanity.

So ambitious their plan, so compelling their spiel
They enticed Elon Musk, Microsoft, Peter Thiel.
With one billion dollars, they now could devise
Artificial intelligence brilliant and wise.
They were confident that it's now just a few years
Till AI with the powers of humans appears.

But they found, to their shock, they would get left behind.
If you want to compete with a lab like Deep Mind
Your computing resources must rapidly grow.
So they need to build apps that will bring in the dough.
But that was OK, since the enterprise would
Be part of the progress toward ultimate good.

The preposterous hype around GPT-2
Gave many researchers a skeptical view.
"It's too great to release" was the puerile pretense.
For a sentence or two, yes, it seems to make sense.
But sooner or later it risibly fails
With nonsensical gibb'rish, it goes off the rails.

When Tech Review journalist Karen Hao came,
To study the group that had won such acclaim,
They were not at all Open, as you might suppose
They were hostile and secret as Holmes' Theranos
And many she interviewed felt trepidation
That telling the truth would risk retaliation.

When she went to the lunch room, the folks in her sight
Were almost all male, either Asian or white.
That being the case, one is wise to suspect
That cultural bias may tend to infect,
And, despite all the humanitarian fuss,
Their programs will benefit people like us.

With pressure for profit that steadily grows,
Mysterious projects that nobody knows,
Researchers required to keep their work mum
In many respects it's already become
A typical hog in the corporate sty.
Have ye heard of non-profit like OpenAI?


This is part of the collection Verses for the Information Age by Ernest Davis