OpenAI chief Sam Altman seeks to calm fears over job losses

OpenAI chief Sam Altman seeks to calm fears over job losses
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The head of OpenAI, the firm behind the popular ChatGPT bot, said on Friday that his firm’s technology would not destroy the job market as he sought to assuage fears about the march of artificial intelligence (AI).

Sam Altman, on a world tour to charm national leaders and the powerful, said in Paris that AI would not, as some warned, eliminate entire sectors of the workforce through automation.

“This idea that AI is going to progress to a point where humans have no job to do or no purpose has never resonated with me,” he said.

When asked about the media industry, where various outlets already use AI to generate stories, Altman said that ChatGPT should be like giving a journalist 100 assistants to help them research and generate ideas.

ChatGPT burst into the spotlight late last year, demonstrating the ability to generate essays, poems, and conversations from the briefest of prompts.

Microsoft later invested billions of dollars to support OpenAI and now uses the company’s technology in several of its products, sparking a run-in with Google, which has made a slew of similar announcements.

Altman, a 38-year-old rising star from Silicon Valley, has received a warm welcome from leaders around the world, from Lagos to London.

Although earlier this week, he seemed to upset the European Union by hinting that his company could leave the bloc if they regulate too harshly.

He insisted to a group of journalists on the sidelines of the Paris event that the headlines were not fair and that he had no intention of leaving the bloc; rather, it was likely that OpenAI would open an office in Europe in the future.

– ‘Exhausting’ –

The success of ChatGPT, which has been used by politicians to write speeches and proved capable of passing tough exams, has brought Altman into the global spotlight.

“Years from now, reflecting on this will feel very special… but it’s also quite exhausting and I hope life calms down,” he said.

OpenAI was formed in 2015 with investors including Altman and Twitter billionaire owner Elon Musk, who left the company in 2018 and has repeatedly criticized it in recent months.

Musk, who has AI ambitions of his own, said he came up with the name OpenAI, invested $100 million in it, was betrayed when the company went from nonprofit to for-profit in 2018, and He said that Microsoft now effectively runs the company.

“I disagree with almost all of that, but I will try to avoid a food fight here,” Altman said. “There have to be more important things than whatever he’s talking about.”

Instead, he wanted to focus on OpenAI’s mission, which he said was to “maximize the benefits” to society of AI, and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) in particular: the much-vaunted future in which machines they will master all sorts of tasks, not just one.

He admitted that AGI’s definitions were “fuzzy” and that there was no agreement, but said his definition was when machines could make great scientific advances.

“For me, if you can figure out the fundamental theory of physics and answer it, I’ll call you AGI,” he said.

One of the main criticisms of its products is that the firm 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 those answers used material from racist or offensive web pages.

But Altman argued that the bottom line was that critics wanted to know if the models themselves were racist.

“What matters there is how it works in a racial bias test,” he said, deflecting the idea that he should publicize the sources.

He said the latest model, GPT-4, was “surprisingly unbiased”.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)


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