The Contradictions of Sam Altman, AI Crusader | Wall Street Journal (31 March, 2023)

Clara Mokri for Wall Street Journal

One of Sam Altman’s early memories is playing with the Macintosh LC II he had gotten for his eighth birthday and realizing that: “Someday, the computer was going to learn to think,” he said.

Altman co-founded OpenAI in 2015 because he believed, he says, that AI development should not be in the hands of players with almost exclusively profit-driven motives and he hoped for a society where AI and a universal basic income empowers people to pursue more creative work.

This article walks us through moments of Altman’s personal life, his childhood, and flashes of family interactions; the early days of OpenAI; its controversially exclusive partnership with Microsoft; DALL-E and ChatGPT writing this decade’s zeitgeist; his reaction to the open letter tech leaders signed last month calling for an AI dev pause; his competitors in the AI tech industry including Anthropic, the AI start-up backed by Google which was founded by a former OpenAI employee; OpenAI’s ultimate goal to achieve artificial general intelligence (AGI)… safely and before anyone else.

"Backers say his brand of social-minded capitalism makes him the ideal person to lead OpenAI. Others, including some who’ve worked for him, say he’s too commercially minded and immersed in Silicon Valley thinking to lead a technological revolution that is already reshaping business and social life. "

Read the full story.

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