OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said Monday that he was encouraged to do so by the desire shown by world leaders to contain any risks posed by AI technology being developed by his company and others.
Altman visited Tel Aviv, a tech powerhouse, as part of a world tour that has so far taken him to several European capitals. Altman’s tour is to promote his company, maker of ChatGPT – the popular AI-powered chatbot – which has unleashed a worldwide craze.
“I am very pleased to be making this trip around the world, meeting world leaders,” Altman said during a visit with Israel’s honorary President Isaac Herzog. Altmann said his discussions showed “thoughtfulness” and “urgency” among world leaders about how to figure out how to “mitigate these very large risks.”
The world tour follows hundreds of scientists and technology industry leaders, including senior executives at Microsoft and Google, have issued a warning about the dangers that artificial intelligence poses to humanity. Altman was also one of the signatories.
Concerns about AI systems outperforming humans and impulsiveness have grown with the advent of a new generation of highly capable AI chatbots. Countries around the world are scrambling to set regulations for technology development, with the European Union leading the way With its AI law expected to be approved later this year.
Speaking at Tel Aviv University, Altman said, “It would be a mistake to go with strict regulations in this area right now or try to slow down amazing innovation.”
But he said there is a risk of creating “superintelligences that don’t align well” with society’s needs in the next decade. He suggested the formation of “a global organization, which could have a framework for licensing models, reviewing the safety of these models, and proposing the tests required to pass them, at the higher end on the limits of computing power and technologies.” He likened it to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Israel has emerged in recent years as a leader in technology, with the industry producing some noteworthy technologies used around the world.
“With the great opportunities of this amazing technology, there are also many risks to humanity and the independence of human beings in the future,” Herzog told Altmann. “We have to make sure that this development is used for the well-being of humanity.”
Among its most controversial exports is Pegasus, a powerful and sophisticated spyware product made by Israeli company NSO, which critics say has been used by authoritarian states to spy on activists and dissidents. The Israeli military has also begun using artificial intelligence to perform certain tasks, including crowd control measures.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he had phone conversations with both Altman and Twitter owner Elon Musk last day.
Netanyahu said he intends to set up a team to discuss a “national AI policy” for both civilian and military purposes. “Just as we turned Israel into a global cyber power, we will also do so in the field of artificial intelligence,” he said.
Altmann met with world leaders including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and German Chancellor Olaf Schultz.
Altman tweeted that he’s going to Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, India and South Korea this week.
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