The boss of OpenAI, the company behind the massively popular ChatGPT bot, said on Friday that his company’s technology would not destroy the job market as he sought to calm fears about the march of artificial intelligence (AI).
Sam Altman, on a global tour to woo national leaders and power brokers, said in Paris that AI would not — as some have warned — wipe out entire sectors of the workforce through automation.
“This idea of AI advancing to the point where humans have no work to do or no purpose has never resonated with me,” he said.
Asked about the media industry, where many outlets are already using AI to create stories, Altman said ChatGPT should instead be like giving a reporter 100 assistants to help them research and come up with ideas.
ChatGPT came into the limelight late last year and demonstrated the ability to create essays, poems and conversations from even short prompts.
Microsoft later committed billions of dollars to support OpenAI and now uses the company’s technology in several of its products – sparking competition with Google, which has made a series of similar announcements.
Altman, a 38-year-old Silicon Valley rising star, has received rave reviews from executives everywhere from Lagos to London.
Although earlier this week he appeared to irritate the European Union by hinting that his company could leave the bloc if they regulate too harshly.
He insisted to a group of reporters on the sidelines of the Paris event that the headlines weren’t fair and that he had no intention of leaving the bloc — rather, OpenAI is likely to open an office in Europe in the future.
– “exhausting” –
The success of ChatGPT — which has been used by politicians to write speeches and has proven it can pass tough tests — has catapulted Altman into the global spotlight.
“Years later, it feels very special to think about this … but it’s also quite exhausting and I hope life settles down,” he said.
OpenAI was founded in 2015 with investors including Altman and billionaire Twitter owner Elon Musk, who left the company in 2018 and has repeatedly battered it in recent months.
Musk, who has his own AI ambitions, said he came up with the name OpenAI, invested $100 million in it, was let down when the company went from a nonprofit to a for-profit business in 2018, and has said Microsoft now effectively runs the company.
“I disagree with almost everything, but I try to avoid food fights here,” Altman said. “There have to be more important things than whatever he’s dealing with.”
Instead, he wanted to focus on OpenAI’s mission, which he said was to “maximize the benefits” to society of artificial intelligence, and artificial intelligence (AGI) in particular — the much-touted future in which machines master all kinds of tasks, not just one.
He acknowledged that the definitions of AGI were “fuzzy” and there was no consensus, but said his definition was when machines can make major scientific breakthroughs.
“To me, if you can figure out a fundamental theory of physics and answer all of that, I call you an AGI,” he said.
A major criticism of his products is that the company does not publish the sources it uses to train its models.
In addition to copyright issues, critics argue that users should know who is responsible for answering their questions and whether the answers used material from offensive or racist websites.
But Altman insisted that critics wanted to know if the models themselves were racist.
“How it performs on the racial bias test is what matters,” he said, rejecting the idea that he should release the sources.
He said the latest model, GPT-4, was “surprisingly unbiased”.