The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Artificial Intelligence AI The New York Times

Claiming 'significant breakthrough,' AI company seeks support from OpenAI


By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

December 19, 2023 | 5 min read

Verses – a company which says it’s developing AI systems "modeled after the Wisdom and Genius of Nature” – is claiming in an open letter published today in The New York Times that it has achieved “a significant internal breakthrough” which could lead to new, more advanced forms of AI.


Verses hopes to catch the attention of OpenAI with a new open letter. / Verses

AI company Verses has extended an invitation to OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, to collaborate towards the development of artificial generative intelligence, or AGI.

In contrast to even the best AI models that are currently available, which are designed to complete a single task or a narrow set of tasks, AGI would hypothetically be able to match or outperform humans in virtually any cognitive task. The question of how soon AGI will arrive, or if its even technically feasible, is one that’s currently being hotly debated in the AI space. Some AI experts fear that the attainment of human-level AI – a theoretical moment known as the “Singularity” – could quickly be followed by the algorithm's uncontrollable ascension into “superintelligence” – an AI that’s unfathomably smarter than human beings.

Powered by AI

Explore frequently asked questions

Many leading AI companies, such as OpenAI, DeepMind and Anthropic, are in a race to develop AGI, viewing it as a Holy Grail of AI research which, if realized, could bring enormous benefit to humanity. OpenAI displays its founding mission in large type on the homepage of its website: “Creating safe AGI that benefits all of humanity.”

In an open letterpublished today in The New York Times, which elaborates on the company’s reasons for pursuing a partnership with OpenAI. While it doesn’t offer many technical details, the letter makes the claim that Verses has “recently achieved a significant internal breakthrough in Active Inference” – a concept which seeks to provide a mathematical framework to the understanding of sentience in living organisms – which could lead to AGI. (Verses Chief Scientist and acclaimed neuroscientist Karl Friston coauthored a book titled Active Inference that was published last year, in which he outlines his famous “free energy principle.”)

Verses’ breakthrough, according to the open letter, can help to make current deep learning models – such as large language models (LLMs), which are known to occasionally fabricate information – more reliable, energy efficient and aligned with human goals. On its website, Verses describes itself as “a cognitive computing company building next-generation intelligent software systems modeled after the Wisdom and Genius of Nature.”

The new effort from Verses was inspired in part by an appearance from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman during a recent event at Cambridge University, during which he stated his belief that LLMs would likely not be sufficient to push current AI models into the realm of AGI. “We need another breakthrough,” Altman said.

Verses’ open letter in the Times today also points to OpenAI’s charter, which states (under a section titled “Long-term safety”): “We are concerned about late-stage AGI development becoming a competitive race without time for adequate safety precautions. Therefore, if a value-aligned, safety-conscious project comes close to building AGI before we do, we commit to stop competing with and start assisting this project.”

The team at Verses appears to feel confident that it is currently embarked on such a project, and that OpenAI would do well to pay attention. “We believe Verses qualifies for your assistance,” the company writes in its open letter. “In return, we offer our assistance to help ensure that general and superintelligence are developed and deployed in a safe and beneficial manner for all of humanity.”

For more on the latest happenings in AI, web3 and other cutting-edge technologies, sign up for The Emerging Tech Briefing newsletter.

Artificial Intelligence AI The New York Times

More from Artificial Intelligence

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +