'Met PM Modi; discussed AI disadvantage, regulation,' says ChatGPT's Sam Altman

Jun 08, 2023 06:48 PM IST

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said, “It's really amazing to watch what's happening in India with the AI adoption. Not just OpenAI, but other technologies, too.”

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, which made ChatGPT, said he emphasised the importance of regulating Artificial Intelligence and discussed its disadvantage in a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said he discussed India's incredible tech ecosystem and how the country can benefit from AI.(Twitter/@sama)
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said he discussed India's incredible tech ecosystem and how the country can benefit from AI.(Twitter/@sama)

"I met PM Modi and talked about its (AI) downside and why it is important to look into it," Altman said addressing a group of students at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi (IIIT-D).

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"It really is amazing to watch what's happening in India with the AI adoption. Not just OpenAI, but other technologies, too," Altman said, adding that it will be the most transformational technology humanity has ever produced. And the nations that accept it, the individuals that embrace it early, will be especially rewarded.

“Life is so much better when intelligence becomes close to free,” he said.

Altman on AI's harmful impact on the environment

In response to how his company plans to address the growing concerns about the environmental impact of AI models, Altman told Hindustan Times that they have envisioned achieving immediate net-zero cooling for their AI system, with a subsequent transition to exclusively using renewable energy sources in the near future. (ALSO READ | 'ChatGPT needs a 500ml bottle of water to answer 20-50 questions': Survey)

“I think at the current scale of systems they do not mean easily contribute to global energy usage. But it's a fair question because eventually, they will. And we're designing systems now that have quite significant energy usage,” he said.

"I believe we're going to have fusion working in the next few years," Altman added, referring to his supported start-up Helion Energy, which claims to be building the world's first fusion power plant, promising a future of limitless clean electricity.

“If not, I think we can be a little bit more expensive and still get to where we need to go with solar and storage systems. It's very important for us to transition to clean energy and also to think about other impacts like water usage. ”

Why did the OpenAI CEO choose to develop ChatGPT?

Altman said that he is working on a mission to build safer Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and within that, he just do whatever works.

“We started with robotics and then systems that play video games. And what we found is that language models were doing something quite powerful at the time. They were totally neglected, even when we put out GPT-1 and even GPT-2, no one really cared. But we saw in there a path to AGI. After we developed that, we found a bunch of other problems. So we invented RLHF and scaling laws. And I think those were two massive contributions. ” (ALSO READ: Know all about Generative AI, the technology that powers OpenAI's ChatGPT)

For the unversed, RLHF stands for Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback, which basically means human trainers provide feedback on AI output, indicating whether they are good or bad. The model learns from this feedback and adjusts accordingly.

Scaling laws refer to the observation that AI models can achieve better results as the scale of training increases.

Altman on AI regulation and pause on development

On being asked why regulations don't catch up with disruptors soon enough and would he be willing to pause the development for regulations to catch up or what is the right way? (ALSO READ: Top AI experts sign open letter warning of ‘extinction’ risk)

“I don't think a pause sounds good. What about people who don't pause? And also a lot of our insights about how to make these systems safer come from working with the latest models.”

He said that instead of relying solely on norms such as external audits, red teaming, and capability tests, it is crucial for development models to undergo a rigorous evaluation by us. This approach would be more effective than simply pausing progress based on a predetermined calendar.

‘Start your own thing,’ Altman advice to student

A student of IIIT D asked ChatGPT's inventor if his company, unlike other tech giants, was willing to hire undergraduates in the research domain.

To this, Altman said many of their best researchers came out of undergrad or dropped out as they share the belief that you certainly don't need a PhD to do great work.

“The other is like, you can always just start your own thing. I did drop out and wouldn't have got a job, but I was able to start something. So I think until the world catches up with the fact that you don't need an advanced degree, that's always an option.”

ALSO READ: Laid off due to AI? Copywriter claims ChatGPT ‘took away’ her job

Altman looking to fund start-ups in India

OpenAI chief said that, presently, in India, he is looking to fund startups than starting a company centre or research lab. He also said that education is one of the areas that the company is excited about impacting.

“We had a good chat about it with the Prime Minister earlier today. We'd love to work with India on this,” Altman said.

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