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What Is Going On At OpenAI?

And Why Logan Kilpatrick Left OpenAI for Google...

Hi everyone 👋,

I’m trying a dramatically different newsletter format this week. Please let me know what you think!

I want to get back to having fun with the newsletter. Sharing my real, unfiltered thoughts on the most critical things in AI and tech.

With my experience creating VC-backed startups in Silicon Valley, surviving a tornado and being trapped under rubble as a child, making money as a gamer as a teenager in Alabama, and now living in Kyoto and doing a podcast with Matt Wolfe and HubSpot, I have some unique insights and points of view to share.

I also want to focus more on supporting the techno-optimist and e/acc communities and helping others, not just sharing the same AI news everyone else is.

Every week, I'll share the 5 most interesting or important things I find, along with my thoughts on what you need to know. This could include technology breakthroughs, Silicon Valley rumors, anti-AI regulations, and how we can push back against them. And how I'm using AI to make money and get jacked in Kyoto.

If you're looking for a comprehensive overview of all of the latest AI news, I suggest checking out these newsletters from my friends:

  • Future Tools — Twice a week newsletter with the best list of new AI tools and AI news from my podcast co-host Matt Wolfe.

  • The Rundown — The most comprehensive AI daily newsletter.

  • The Neuron — Best combination of AI news and insights. Plus, they’ve got a kawaii cat logo.

Please reply to this email or tweet me your thoughts about this new format! I will keep the intros super short in the future — and spend a lot more time on editing. ;)

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What Is Going On At OpenAI?

Another day with a ton of hype coming out of OpenAI, this time at the Milken Institute. I hope the hype is true, but I am starting to wonder what the f**k is going on over there.

I’ve been in the “GPT-5 is just around the corner and is going to blow us away” camp, but after my interview with Logan Kilpatrick (details below), I’m not so sure.

Here’s a brief overview of the last month:

  • Sam Altman has had multiple interviews where he’s said GPT-4 basically sucks, and GPT-5 will be way better. My favorite recent one was the 20VC interview.

  • OpenAI was supposed to release a search product this week, as reported by Pete at The Neuron, but it might be delayed.

  • GPT2, a mysterious LLM, was released on HuggingFace without any explanation of who created it or what it is. In some areas, it seems to be at the GPT-4 level or even below. However, in other areas, people have had some amazing results.

  • Sam Altman has tweeted several cryptic tweets referencing GPT2. Then, multiple different versions of GPT2 showed up, all seeming to have their own strengths and weaknesses.

My best guess about GPT2 is that it’s a fundamentally more efficient model architecture that OpenAI created, which probably is the basis for how they built GPT-5.

If that’s the case, tho, it’s still really odd how they’re releasing this in such a mysterious way and why they’re doing it since it’s clearly not GPT-5. Unless they’ve WAY overhyped GPT-5, which I still don’t think is the case.

I'm unsure if this is some hype marketing strategy dreamed up by GPT-5, a way for Sam Altman to buy time or just a result of me spending too much time on Twitter.

I still feel like OpenAI has something incredible coming with GPT-5. But, I am a bit less confident than I was a month ago about that prediction after talking with Logan Kilpatrick…

I am glad, tho, that it appears that Sam Altman is finally putting out a more techno-optimist vibe.

I hope he’s got something amazing cooking.

Why Logan Kilpatrick Left OpenAI for Google

In this week’s episode of The Next Wave, Matt Wolfe and I spoke with Logan Kilpatrick before anyone else about why he left OpenAI for Google. If you’re unfamiliar with Logan, he’s a huge advocate of open-source software with an incredible background at companies like NASA. And he’s the President of NumFOCUS, a non-profit supporting open-source in data, research and science.

But to me, for the last year, I’ve always just known him as the main person at OpenAI that was super friendly and easy to reach and talk to on Twitter. For many people, he was the human voice of OpenAI, so it’s a big deal that he left.

In the video, we cover a ton of other stuff, including open-source vs. closed-source, how ChatGPT’s real origin story isn’t what you’ve heard, and more!

I hope you’ll check it out. It’s blowing up with over 4,000 plays in less than 24 hours!

P.S. It would help if you subscribed to The Next Wave on YouTube, Apple, and Spotify. That’d make me, and HubSpot, happy. And if you like, leave a comment or review. Unless it’s negative, then DM that to me. 😉 

User Experience More Important Than Ever

I agree strongly with this tweet from Garry Tan, president of Y Combinator.

Today, I watched this YouTube episode from Matt Wolfe, where he tried many AI tools. And damn, some of them were incredibly poorly designed.

Reminds me of a conversation we had with Greg Isenberg recently, where we talked about in the Age of AI, when everyone will be able just to copy your company or SaaS tool with the use of AI, you need a competitive edge.

In the episode, we talked a lot about community and social media followings being new kinds of moats. But I think we should have talked more about user experience, too.

I don’t want to put down any specific companies that have bad products, but here are some examples of what nailing user experience with AI looks like:

Examples

  • Magnific by Javi Lopez, which was just acquired by Freepik. An incredibly beautiful, simple tool for upscaling. Where most saw the lack of consistency in AI art and upscaling a downside, he turned it into an upside by presenting it as the AI being creative and magically improving your art or photos.

  • AI Dating coach built on-top of ChatGPT making $190,000 a month. This kind of product couldn’t have existed without AI.

  • Midjourney. The #1 AI art tool, created by an insanely small team(about 40 people now) and will soon if not already be worth over a billion dollars. Oh, by the way, if you haven’t tried Midjourney in a while, they finally have the web version working, so you can use it without Discord. It’s MUCH better. Check it out.

As this list shows, if you nail user experience and leverage AI, you can build an insanely profitable company with few people.

It’s worth thinking deeply about before you just tack AI on to a product, put a ✨ on it, and call it a day.

How can you make a new user experience that wasn’t possible before?

For example, if I were Airbnb, I would not just think about how to improve the Airbnb website with new AI features. I’d be thinking about the entirely new experience of finding a place to stay now that AI exists.

I think most companies, instead of tacking on AI, should be building internal skunkworks that test out AI and build entirely new products, even if those products might kill their own company. Because if they don’t do it, a small team of motivated people powered by new AI tools will be coming to do it.

But, in the classic innovator’s dilemma style, most companies “know this” and still won’t do it.

The State of Innovation At Apple

This week, I’ve heard many rumors about Apple making big moves in AI. The biggest rumor is that Apple might build its own Silicon-based AI servers instead of using NVIDIA. While this is a step in the right direction, I believe Apple needs to be taking AI more seriously.

I mean, they recently stopped development of their decade long car project, which was supposed to be one of their big products to take on Tesla. And a project that would have given them massive amounts of real-world training data. And, then more recently it was announced that they’d just partner with Google or OpenAI for their AI instead of doing their own.

This tweet from YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley perfectly encapsulates how I feel about Apple right now, and the humor of it all.

OpenAI, Meta and others out here about to democratize access to intelligence and make entirely new forms of computer interaction possible. And, Apple is still playing the who’s got the thinnest StarTrek screen game like that’s exciting to anyone now.

I know because I’m from Alabama, and Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, went to Auburn, I’m supposed to be rooting for him. And, he seems like a great guy and an excellent operator.

But I still believe that his being the CEO is a huge mistake. Apple seems to be out of good new ideas, and no one there knows how to go from 0 to 1.

What was the last good new product they actually released? Apple TV failed. The Apple Vision Pro is cool tech, but it’s an expensive niche product at this point. Steve Jobs would have never released it without a killer first app and at a price point that people could barely afford, but still was within reach.

It’s like Boeing having all these issues with their planes and their stock tanking because it has a CFO as the CEO. And the CFO thinks planes are just numbers in a spreadsheet. Apple has the same problem. They’re running it like a giant spreadsheet business instead of a product incubator. And in the age of AI, when everything changes fast, the spreadsheet companies will lose.

I hope Apple can correct course and have another great Apple rebirth. But the last Apple rebirth required Steve Jobs, and unfortunately, he’s no longer with us.

Things I’m Reading Or Watching

That’s all for today.

Let’s keep accelerating and warding off the decels together!

-Nathan