In his first public appearance since regaining control of artificial intelligence (AI) startup OpenAI last week, co-founder and CEO Sam Altman spoke in defense of the company’s exploratory approach to developing AI technology, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
Addressing a conference hosted by rights organization Operation Hope in Atlanta on Monday, Altman stated “It’s going to lift the world up,” referring to AI’s potential, but stressed the importance of pushing boundaries safely to realize its benefits across healthcare, education, and more.
The comments come on the heels of recent turmoil in OpenAI’s leadership after Altman was briefly ousted as CEO in what he called a “coup attempt.” Concerns over the speed of development on OpenAI products like ChatGPT sparked the coup, stunning Silicon Valley. However, after investor and employee backlash, Altman was reinstated days later and most previous board members exited.
Altman acknowledged anxieties around AI being misused, saying “you don’t need much imagination because we grew up with that in the media.” But he defended OpenAI’s open, deploy-focused approach as key to developing the technology safely, rather than in secret.
Details around OpenAI’s new board and governance plans were not provided, and signs of ongoing differences with co-founder Ilya Sutskever remain after his opposition to Altman’s return.
The recent events have amplified scrutiny on AI advancements enabled by OpenAI that could reshape industries but also carry risks around military uses and other dangers according to experts.
Altman stated that “people have a lot of anxiety, and I get that,” referring to current societal apprehensions about advanced AI. He announced plans to co-chair a new AI ethics council with conference host John Hope Bryant as part of efforts to responsibly shape the emerging technology.
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