The weekend started with one of the biggest developments in the tech world that sent shockwaves through the neighborhood. Sam Altman was ousted from OpenAI’s board and replaced by CTO Mira Murati, who is now interim CEO of the AI powerhouse. Altman has been the blue-eyed boy of all things AI since OpenAI introduced ChatGPT. The sensational AI-powered chatbot, with its precise and humanistic responses, was launched to great popularity, sparking an AI arms race among big tech companies.
The phenomenal success of ChatGPT catapulted Altman into the legion of young changemakers who held the promise of a futuristic world where AI worked for the good of humanity. Even as experts and organizations continued to be baffled by the perils of AI, Altman was seen at conferences and symposia around the world allaying fears, citing examples of the wonders of great language models .
The disturbing chaos that followed Altman’s dismissal is plausible given the young CEO’s towering claims when he was at the helm of affairs. From his views on startups and productivity to his claims about AGI, here’s a look at some of his big statements as CEO of OpenAI.
On the possibilities with AGI
Artificial general intelligence or AGI has been a controversial topic ever since AI and everything surrounding it became a dominant topic of conversation. AGI is essentially a hypothetical ability of AI systems to emulate the full cognitive abilities of the human mind. Although the idea has sparked both excitement and fear, several tech bosses have floated their ideas around this superintelligence. In one of his recent interviews, Altman said that GPT-3 and GPT-4 are all steps towards AGI. In his interaction with The Wall Street Journal, Altman said that “affordable and abundant energy and AGI” will be the most important elements over the next decade to improve the human condition. He then shared his thoughts on why AGI should not be feared. “We will be able to express ourselves in new creative ways. We will do incredible things for each other, for ourselves, for the world, for this unfolding human story,” he told the newspaper.
On Raising More Money From Microsoft
AI models require billions of dollars of investment and enormous amounts of computing power. Microsoft has been supporting the AI startup for some time now. The tech giant first invested in 2019 by injecting $1 billion, then the company invested $10 billion after the launch of GPT-3.5 in January 2023. It had invested another $2 billion in 2021. In his recent interview with Financial Times, Altman said he hoped to raise more money from Microsoft to invest in OpenAI’s vision of AGI. In the same interview, he said the partnership between OpenAI and Microsoft was working “very well.” Although he did not disclose details on the timeline for creating AGI, he said the vision was how to make AGI safe and understand the benefits.
Sam vs. Elon
It’s a well-known fact that Altman and Musk are not on the best of terms. The duo has been exchanging barbs for some time. The Tesla boss has been working on creating his own chatbot since ChatGPT took off and caused a revolution. In one of the recent cases, Altman took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to take a photo of Musk’s recently launched AI chatbot, Grok. In his tweet, Altman wrote, “GPTs can save a lot of effort.” The tweet came days after OpenAI held its first-ever developer conference where it touted the capabilities of GPT Builder, a tool that lets anyone without coding learn how to build their own GPTs. He shared a screenshot in his tweet that showed him asking GPT Builder to “be a chatbot that answers questions with grumpy boomer humor in a goofy way that makes you laugh.” » The GPT Builder responded by saying “Great, the chatbot is set up!” His name is Grok. How do you like this name, or would you prefer something else? »
Sam Altman on startups
Altman believes in small teams. During an interaction in Melbourne, Australia, Altman said it was easier with smaller teams to make focused, decisive and clear bets. “Innovation is easier with a relatively small team that must make a decisive and clear bet and that does not tolerate any mediocre player. that’s it,” he reportedly said at the event. As of May 2023, Altman’s stakes in various startups were estimated to be worth around $500 million, according to observer.com. That’s not all, Altman is said to have funded nearly 100 companies, including Humane, Neuralink and Reddit.
On AI and humanity
Altman, during his interaction in Melbourne, said that although intelligence is something that distinguishes humans from other beings, it is not just a simple computational ability. With the rapid evolution of AI, the CEO said he believes humans will adapt to the new change in the same way they had become accustomed to previous technological advances such as industrial revolutions and introduction of computers. He said AI will challenge humans to think about the space they occupy in a world where machines surpass various forms of intelligence. Although the risk of AI dominated most conversations, Altman always focused on the technology’s positive potential. He said he hoped for more discussion on “positive scenarios” for AI.
On AI and elections
Given that AI has overtaken conventional technologies in most industries, it is entirely reasonable to expect it to have some influence on elections. The idea of AI in elections has been a sensation for some time now. In August, Altman took to his X account and shared his apprehensions about it. In his thread, the former OpenAI CEO expressed concerns about the role of AI in future elections. He considered how AI would be used for so-called “personalized persuasion and high-quality media generation,” and the importance of recognizing them as forces that could shape public feelings. “I’m nervous about the impact AI is going to have on future elections (at least until everyone gets used to it). 1:1 personalized persuasion, combined with high-quality generated media, is going to be a powerful force,” his tweet read.
Sam Altman on Indian ChatGPT
In June, Altman came to India and discussed the future of AI with the Prime Minister. Narendra Modi and also met several Indian technology experts. However, Altman was soon at the center of controversy over his comments. In one of the interactions, the former Google India chief Rajan Anandan asked Altman how to create something like ChatGPT in India. Altman responded by saying that creating something like ChatGPT in India would be “pretty hopeless.” “Here’s how it works, we’ll tell you. There is no point in competing with us on basic training models. You shouldn’t try, and it’s your job to enjoy trying anyway. And I believe in both of those things. I think it’s pretty desperate,” Altman reportedly said at the event. Following his comments, Altman was heavily criticized. However, Altman later clarified his stance saying his comments were taken out of context, adding that he had no doubts about the capabilities of Indian startups.