Sam Altman shares his optimistic view of the future of AI

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has been touring Europe in recent days, meeting with government leaders and startup communities to talk about AI regulation and beyond. During his final stage appearance at Station F in Paris, Altman answered questions from local entrepreneurs and shared his views on artificial intelligence.

A few days ago, Altman met Emmanuel Macron. Station F director Roxanne Varza first asked him about the content of the conversation. As expected, the discussion mostly revolved around regulation. “It was great, we discussed how to find the right balance between protection with this technology and letting it flourish,” Altman said.

He then explained why he was traveling from country to country at such a frenetic pace. “The reason to take this trip is to get out of the Bay Area tech bubble,” he said.

Altman then listed some of the reasons he’s excited about the current state of artificial intelligence. According to him, the AI ​​is having a moment because it’s pretty good at a lot of different things, and not just one thing. For example, AI can be particularly useful in education and we could be on the verge of a major change in education around the world.

Of course, he also mentioned how GPT and other AI models have been helpful in improving productivity in a wide variety of jobs, including software development.

The discussion then shifted to regulation. A few days ago, at a similar event at University College London, Altman warned that excessive European regulation could lead OpenAI to leave the continent altogether. While he was already backtracking on Twitter, saying that “we are delighted to continue operating here and of course have no intention of leaving,” he spent some time explaining his thinking.

“We plan to comply, we really like Europe and we want to offer our services in Europe, but we just want to be able to make sure that we are technically capable of it,” Altman said.

In this Q&A session, Altman came across as a radical optimist, saying there will be major technological breakthroughs (around nuclear fusion in particular) that will solve climate change in the near future. Likewise, he posed some tough questions to the audience, but he still believes that the pros of artificial intelligence far outweigh the cons.

“The discussion has been too focused on the negatives,” Altman said. “It seems like the balance has fallen off considering how much value people are getting from these tools these days.”

He called once again for a “global regulatory framework” similar to nuclear or biotechnology regulation. “I think it’s going to come to a good place. I think it’s important that we do that. Regulatory clarity is a good thing,” he said.

Picture credits: Romain Dillet / TechCrunch

Models of competition and improvement

What’s next for OpenAI? The roadmap is quite simple. Altman says the team is working on “better, smarter, cheaper, faster and more capable models.”

The success of OpenAI and ChatGPT has also led to more competition. There are other companies and AI labs working on large language models and generative AI in general. But Altman sees competition as a good thing.

“People competing to make better and better models, that’s great,” he said. “As long as we’re not competing in a way that puts safety at risk – if we’re competing for models while raising the bar on safety – I think that’s a good thing.”

In fact, there will not be a single model that will rule them all. Some models will become more specialized. Some models will be better at certain tasks than others. “There are going to be a ton of role models in the world. I think the trajectory we’re on is that it’s going to be a fundamental technology enable,” Altman said.

AI as a tool to augment humans

In many ways, Altman sees AI as a tool that can be harnessed by humans to create new things, unlock potential, and change the way we should think about specific problems. For example, he doesn’t believe AI poses a job risk.

“This idea that artificial intelligence is going to progress to a point where humans have no more work to do or have no purpose has never touched me,” Altman said. “There will be people who choose not to work, and I think that’s great. I think that should be a valid choice and there are many other ways to find meaning in life. But I’ve never seen compelling evidence that what we do with better tools is like working less.

For example, speaking of journalism, Altman says AI can help journalists focus on what they do best: investigate more and spend more time finding new information worth sharing. . “What if each of your reporters had a team of 100 people working for them in different areas? he said.

And this is probably the most dizzying effect of the current wave of AI. In Altman’s mind, AI will adapt to human needs, and humans will adapt to what AI can do. “This technology and this society will co-evolve. People will use it in different ways and for different reasons,” Altman said.


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