Sam Altman on ChatGPT and a Generative AI fueled Future

Sam Altman on ChatGPT and a Generative AI fueled Future

By Simona Sutaviciute, 06 June 2023

On June 6, 2023, HUB71, in partnership with ADGM and Abu Dhabi University for Artificial Intelligence, hosted Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the company behind the creation of Chat GPT—the fastest-growing consumer application in history, reaching 100 million monthly active users in a matter of weeks. The event consisted of an hour-long open discussion where attendees had the opportunity to ask questions.

Throughout the discussion, five key themes became prominent. Here are our take-aways of Sam Altman's viewpoints across key topics. But before that, let’s give you a quick run-down of everything you need to know about Sam.


Who is Sam Altman?

Sam is an American entrepreneur, billionaire investor, and programmer. He is a co-founder and the current CEO of OpenAI, an American artificial intelligence research laboratory consisting of both for-profit and non-profit arms. OpenAI’s mission is to “research generative models and ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.” Prior to OpenAI, Sam was the former President of Y-Combinator (YC), one of the most successful start-up accelerators in the world which has helped launch over 4,000 companies including Airbnb, Reddit, Stripe, Dropbox, Coinbase, Instacart and many more household names. Altman started as a part-time partner at YC in 2011, and was named president in 2014. And before he was at the helm of YC or OpenAI, he was the co-founder of Loopt, a geosocial networking platform that received initial backing from YC. Fun fact: Sam also played interim CEO of Reddit in 2014 – for a whopping 8 days – when CEO Yishan Wong resigned.

Just like any Silicon Valley titan would, Sam has also invested in over 200 startups himself – including players like Airbnb, Dropbox, Asana, Pinterest, and Reddit – and was named one of the “30 under 30” innovators by Forbes Magazine, back in 2011. Altman studied computer science at Stanford University. He has also been an active advocate for startups and has helped shape the tech industry in Silicon Valley, with a particular interest in diversity and inclusion, and providing more opportunities in tech for people from diverse backgrounds.


What does the ChatGPT future look like?

When asked about the future and the anticipated features of ChatGPT-10 (which is expected to become available in 2029), Sam said “I can’t even predict […] I think it will be extraordinary”. He emphasized the opportunities that Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) brings and how it will shape our already fast evolving world.

Sam went on to say, "If calculus had not yet been discovered, you are not going to figure it out by reading more books,” refering to the current capability of ChatGPT). He continues, “models need to start thinking, to come up with new ideas. [This will] begin to invent new knowledge.”

“Everyone wants to provide fantastic healthcare, great education, productivity gains, discover new science – all of this stuff is going to happen. Nobody wants to destroy the world”.

These answers suggest a shift towards mass automation and AI agents capable of inventing new knowledge. This raises an important question: if or when AI agents become fully integrated into our workflow, will we still be able to spot and question what might appear as an “AI hallucination” – a confident AI generated responses that lack justification based on training data? Will we be able to identify and question them? Or will we accept them as "new knowledge" due to confirmation bias, potentially leading scientists to validate them even when scrutinized?

The widespread adoption of AI technology is evident through the actions of early adopters, who are embracing automation in significant leaps. During the discussion Sam Altman said that NLMs (Natural Language Models) and AGIs (Artificial General Intelligence) should possess decision-making power.  He also highlighted blockchain as a valuable technology for use cases such as content authentication and wealth management. The audience did not have a chance to enquire about WorldcoinWeb3 protocol that is intended to become the world's largest identity and financial public network, which Sam Altman is a co-founder of.

Related: The Dawn of Web3: Joseph Lubin’s Visionary Journey


What are the implications of AI on jobs?

With regards to what the jobs of the future look like, Sam was optimistic. “I could name with confidence many jobs of the future, and there will be many more that none of us could even imagine. We are just going to do different stuff [to what we’re doing today]. We will [one day] look back at this period of 2023 and say we did not have very good lives relative to what's possible." Increased productivity and faster access to knowledge were emphasized throughout the discussion.

That said, it wasn’t the first time we heard that. We heard that the internet and Web1.0 and Web2.0 would dramatically increase productivity and alleviate work-life balance issues. It did make us more productive. A typical sales manager can have 5-12 sales calls throughout the day in 2023 – depending on whether they were in person or via Online Video Meeting. Even if meetings were in person, using google maps to quickly navigate ourselves to the meeting would be faster than mapping out your route on a paper map, which was apparently what sales people in the 90’s did. Better yet, Uber will get us there, and we won’t need to figure out parking. Retiring executives have told me countless stories of the good old days, when two meetings in a single day was a slam dunk.

So we’ve been here before. A promise of faster access to knowledge and increased productivity. But have we spent those gains wisely? Many are still asking, will more AI-fueled productivity make us humans healthier as well as wealthier?

Universal Basic Income (UBI) was also mentioned, with Sam expressing his support, stating, “It would be good for the world to start planning for it in a 10-year horizon. I think UBI is a good idea."


What are the critical skills to develop?

“Have the mindset of I am going to figure out how to use it better than anybody else,” said Altman. He encouraged everyone to embrace the new technology. He spoke to an interesting piece of research, that pointed to individuals who had joined corporations straight out of school being more productive than those who had already been in their jobs at the same corporation for five or seven years. He remarked that “It highlights that the productivity and personal learning potential that is already available when using tools like ChatGTP and other AI agents.” Altman also elaborated on what he thinks are critical skills for entrepreneurs. These were skills he witnessed being most important during his 8 year tenure as the President of YC Combinator, working with some of the most innovative startups of the past two decades.


Should AI technology be regulated, and if so, How?

Regulation is currently one of the most prominent topics around AI technology. When asked about broader regulation, Altman did not provide a definitive answer. He said “I think it would be a mistake to regulate the current models of today” while at the same time applauding the ongoing discussion and highlighting areas that need to be looked at such as licensing frameworks, evaluation models for AI training at larger scales, as well as considerations for deployment.

At the forum, Sam Altman received several questions about the possibility of ceasing operations in Europe due to non-compliance with the European Commission AI Act. He responded “We're very excited to operate in Europe. What we said is if we can't comply with the law, then we won't break it.”

Related: OpenAI CEO's Visit to Jordan: Is Jordan's Tech Sector the Future of AI?


How can we ensure AI technology is ethical and unbiased?

Sam explained, “If the value system for all the AIs in the world are coming from a small number of countries or viewpoints that are producing the most datapoints - that would be really bad, and I am really worried about that. Part of the reason we are going to be distributing grants is to get a diverse global representation, because whatever AGI we built should reflect the total expansiveness of humanity.”

Sam encouraged researchers to collaborate with OpenAI and build upon their models rather than competing. He acknowledged that there are many issues that need to be addressed, and encouraged everyone with ideas to reach out and to explore their Grants programmes (Democratic Inputs to AI and Cybersecurity).   

Sam Altman's optimistic view of AI's potential to invent new knowledge and transform various industries was evident throughout the discussion. With $10 billion in raised financing, it is clear that OpenAI will continue to develop technology at an unparalleled speed. Now, it is up to us, as individuals and collectively as humanity, to decide how we will harness this powerful technology.




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