OpenAI CEO Sam Altman says he’s a “bit scared” of AI

Sam Altman, co-founder and CEO of OpenAI Inc., speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt 2019 in San Francisco, California, on Thursday, October 3, 2019.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, said in a recent interview with ABC News that he is “a little scared” of artificial intelligence technology and how it can affect the workforce, elections and the spread of disinformation.

OpenAI developed the ChatGPT bot, which creates human-like answers to questions and sparked a new AI craze.

“I think people are really having fun with it [ChatGPT]Altman said in the interview.

But his excitement about the transformative potential of AI technology, which Altman said will eventually reflect “humanity’s collective strength, creativity and will,” was offset by his concerns about “authoritarian regimes” developing competing AI technology.

“We are very concerned about authoritarian governments developing this,” Altman said. Overseas governments have already started marketing competitive AI technology.

For example, Chinese tech company Baidu recently held a release event for its ChatGPT competitor, a chat AI called Ernie bot.

Years before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said whoever becomes the leader in AI technology “will be the ruler of the world.” Altman called the comments “chilling”.

Both Google and Microsoft have aggressively stepped up their AI games. Microsoft chose to partner with Altman’s OpenAI to integrate its GPT technology into Bing Search. Google parent Alphabet unveiled an internally developed chatbot called Bard AI, to mixed feedback from Google employees and test drivers.

The influence of ChatGPT and AI tools like it has yet to seep into the US election process, but Altman said the 2024 election was a focus for the company.

“I am particularly concerned that these models can be used for large-scale disinformation,” the CEO told ABC.

“Now that they’re starting to write computer code, [models] can be used for offensive cyber-attacks,” he said.

ChatGPT’s programming ability has already impressed many developers. It already functions as a “co-pilot” for programmers, Altman said, and OpenAI is working to unlock similar functionality for “every profession.”

The CEO acknowledged that this would mean many people would lose their jobs, but said it would be an opportunity to find a better kind of job.

“We can have a much higher quality of life and standard of living,” Altman said. “People need time to update, to react, to get used to this technology.”

Watch the full interview on ABC News.


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