OpenAI’s Altman Talks Up Machine Learning on Global Tour

Amidst calls to put the brakes on large language model development, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has hit the global circuit to tout the advantages of artificial intelligence and commercial opportunities with his firm. Altman’s 17-city tour includes stops in Washington D.C., Toronto, Tokyo, Rio De Janeiro, Lagos, London, Paris, Madrid, Brussels, Munich, Tel Aviv, Singapore, Dubai, New Delhi, Jakarta, Seoul and Melbourne. On Monday, Altman met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other government officials, vowing to collaborate on protecting user privacy and data protection.

OpenAI is the creator of the ChatGPT chatbot and DALL-E 2 image generator, as well as the enormous GPT-4 AI model, said to train on a trillion parameters. Altman’s tour comes just weeks after tech leaders including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak signed an open letter calling for AI labs to institute a six-month pause on systems more powerful than GPT-4.

“As OpenAI comes under greater and greater scrutiny, a ’round-the-world goodwill tour’ — as The Washington Post put it on Sunday — is just the ticket. After all, as regulators start circling, competitors creep closer, and critics get louder, perhaps some political glad-handing is in order,” reports VentureBeat.

The walkabout comes amidst a frenzy of AI activity, with GPT-4 released March 15, and new ChatGPT plugins announced March 23. And the past month has seen three Chinese chatbots released, with the government there simultaneously unveiling regulations drafted to keep them in check.

Italy announced it is banning ChatGPT due to data security concerns, and the Biden administration — which released an AI Bill of Rights for Consumers last fall — announced it is assessing whether regulations are needed to ensure responsible AI development.

“According to Reuters, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said that Japan will consider government adoption of AI technology such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot if privacy and cybersecurity concerns are resolved,” says VentureBeat, adding that Matsuno expressed interest in harnessing AI to reduce government employee workloads.

During his visit, Altman expressed interest in opening an OpenAI office in Japan to “expand services in the country,” VentureBeat reports. “Altman expressed willingness to work with the Japanese government to protect users,” adds Nikkei, quoting Altman saying of his meeting with the prime minister, “We talked about the upside of this technology, and how to mitigate the downside.”

“While ChatGPT is expected to raise productivity through automatic text generation and other means, there is growing concern in Europe and the U.S. about how developers of AI tools will protect personal information and deal with the spread of misinformation or disinformation,” Nikkei writes.

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