“‘If this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong.’”
— Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT creator OpenAI
ChatGPT has opened the public’s eyes to the power of artificial intelligence, and the leader of its parent company was on Capitol Hill Tuesday to acknowledge the need for government regulation of the technology.
Sam Altman, the chief executive of OpenAI, which created ChatGPT, told senators at a hearing that his greatest fear is that AI ends up causing “significant harm to the world.” To that end, he said he thinks that regulatory invention from the government could be “critical” in helping ensure that the technology is rolled out responsibly.
“We think it can be a printing-press moment,” Altman said at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “We have to work together to make it so.”
At the same time, he acknowledged that companies need to “have their own responsibilities here, regardless of what government does.”
Altman admitted that AI is likely to affect jobs, but he took a rosy view of what ultimately could be achieved.
“Like with all tech revolutions, I expect there to be a significant impact on jobs, but exactly what that impact is is difficult to predict,” he said. “I believe that there will be far greater jobs on the other side of this, and the jobs on the other side will be better.”
GPT-4, an OpenAI language model, “will automate away some jobs,” he said, while noting that he was “very optimistic about how great the jobs of the future will be.”
In prepared remarks, he said that OpenAI was “funding research into potential policy tools and support efforts that might help mitigate future economic impacts from technological disruption, such as modernizing unemployment-insurance benefits and creating adjustment-assistance programs for workers impacted by AI advancements.”
Gary Marcus, a professor emeritus of psychology and neural science at New York University and a luminary in the field of AI, also served as a witness at the hearing, He advocated for taking a tougher tack on the technology.
“There are benefits, but we don’t yet know if they outweigh the risks,” Marcus said in his testimony.
He called for a cabinet-level organization that would address artificial intelligence, arguing that with the technology poised to “be such a large part of our future,” one step in the right direction would be “to have an agency whose full-time job is to do this.”