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. "