ChatGPT Creator Sam Altman Believes AI Regulation Is “Critical,” Urges U.S. Lawmakers to Act At Congress Hearing


Sam Altman, CEO and cofounder of OpenAI, testifying before Congress on May 16, 2023 — CRAIG SMITH

Key takeaways

  • OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testified in first Congress hearing about AI regulation yesterday
  • He believes AI, like his creation ChatGPT, needs regulation now to ensure future success of the industry
  • Issues around AI on the labor economy and its potential harm towards users discussed as urgent need for regulation

A congressional hearing where Republicans, Democrats and witnesses were all in agreement? It’s a rare sight indeed, but that’s what happened yesterday when OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testified about AI regulation to select Congress members. Let’s get into the details of what went down.

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What happened at the AI hearing

A number of witnesses including Altman, IBM chief privacy officer Christina Montgomery and AI skeptic Dr Gary Marcus were there to talk about the risks and benefits of AI on society.

Altman outlined his ideal scenario for a regulator: an agency that can give and take away AI licenses, mandatory independent audits on AI companies and a set of safety rules all AI companies abide by.

Some of the key moments from the three-hour hearing included Marcus suggesting a cabinet-level body to regulate the tech, OpenAI introducing a model where artists are compensated for their artwork being used to create AI imagery and that there wouldn’t be a pause in AI development to allow regulators to catch up in time.

There was a general consensus that the choices made now could have implications for decades, with AI being compared to the printing press and the atom bomb with its potential impact on humanity. “My worst fears are that [the AI industry] cause significant harm to the world,” Altman said.

But this is just the beginning: the committee voiced its intentions to have more hearings, as when it comes to AI regulations, there’s plenty to discuss. Senator Blumenthal, who chaired the hearing, said the topics of company monopolies and national security issues hadn’t been touched on yet.

The bottom line

Altman was clear on a few things: AI regulation is critical and needed now; users shouldn’t suffer the same mistakes with the rise of social media and have their data used without their consent, and AI replacing jobs needs government action to resolve.

The U.S. has a golden opportunity right now to learn from its mistakes with Big Tech and work with an industry crying out for guardrails. The question is — will lawmakers take it?

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