A few weeks after OpenAI released its ChatGPT chatbot last year, Sam AltmanThe chief executive of an artificial intelligence start-up launched a lobbying blitz in Washington.
they performed chatgpt At breakfast with more than 20 lawmakers at the Capitol. He called for AI to be regulated in private meetings with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders. Mr. Altman has discussed the rapidly developing technology with at least 100 members of Congress, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris and cabinet members at the White House, according to lawmakers and the Biden administration.
“It’s very refreshing,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut and chair of a panel an AI hearing last month Featuring Mr. Altman. “He was willing, able and eager.”
Technology CEOs have generally avoided the spotlight of government regulators and lawmakers. It took subpoenas and threats of public humiliation to persuade Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Google’s Sundar Pichai to testify before Congress in recent years.
But Mr. Altman, 38, has fled to the limelight, attracting the attention of lawmakers in a way that has melted the icy attitudes toward Silicon Valley companies. They have initiated meetings and taken advantage of the opportunity testify at last month’s Senate hearing, And instead of opposing the rules, he has invited lawmakers to enact comprehensive rules keeping the technology in mind.
Mr. Altman has also taken his show on the road, delivering a similar message about AI on a 17-city tour across South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. In recent weeks, he met with French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“We think regulatory intervention by governments will be important to mitigate the risks of increasingly powerful models,” Mr. Altman said at a Senate hearing last month.
His aggressive charm has raised him to a significant seat of influence. Connecting early with lawmakers, Mr. Altman is shaping the debate on governing AI and educating Washington on the complexities of the technology, especially as its fears grow. Taking a page from recent history, he is also working to reverse the damage done to social media companies, which are a constant target of lawmakers, and pave the way for AI.
Their actions could help solidify OpenAI’s position at the forefront of the debate on AI regulation. Microsoft, Google, IBM and AI start-ups have drawn battle lines on the proposed rules and differ on how much government intervention they want in their industry. Withers has inspired other tech leaders to plead their cases with the Biden administration, members of Congress and global regulators.
So far, Mr. Altman’s strategy appears to be working. US lawmakers have turned to him as a teacher and mentor. Last month, he gave a briefing on ChatGPT to dozens of members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House AI Caucus. He has proposed the construction of a independent regulatory agency For AI, licensing of technology and security standards.
“I have great respect for Sam,” said Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat of Virginia, who hosted Mr. Altman for dinner last month along with more than a dozen other senators.
But how long such goodwill can last is uncertain. Some lawmakers caution against over-reliance on Mr. Altman and other tech leaders Educate them on the explosion of new AI technologies,
“He appears to be different, and it was good for him to testify,” Senator Josh Hawley, the ranking Republican, said at the Senate hearing. “But I don’t think we should be praising his company just yet.”
OpenAI said it wanted to bridge the knowledge gap between Silicon Valley and Washington on AI and help shape regulations, with the benefit of learning from the tech industry’s past mistakes.
“We don’t want this to be like previous tech revolutions,” said Anna Makanju, OpenAI’s head of public policy, who leads a small team of five policy experts. Mr. Altman, he said, “knows this is a critical period, so he tries to say yes to these kinds of meetings as much as possible.”
Mr. Altman has been warning about the potential risks of AI for years when talking technology. In 2015, while leading the start-up incubator Y Combinator, he co-founded OpenAI with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and others. He wrote in a blog post at the time that governments should regulate AI’s most powerful tools
“In an ideal world, regulation would slow down the bad guys and speed up the good guys,” he said. wrote,
Mr. Altman has long believed that it is better to engage with regulators early, Ms. Makanju said.
In 2018, when OpenAI was published a statement on its mission, It promised to prioritize safety, which included the involvement of regulators, Ms. Makanju said. In 2021, when the company released DALL-E, an AI tool that generates images from text commands, the company sent its chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, to demonstrate the technology to lawmakers.
In January, Mr. Altman traveled to Washington to speak at an off-the-record breakfast with members of Congress hosted by the Aspen Institute. He answered questions and previewed GPT-4, the new AI engine from OpenAI, Which he said was built with better security features.
Mr Altman has surprised some lawmakers with his outspokenness about the risks of AI. In a meeting with Representative Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, at OpenAI’s San Francisco offices in March, Mr. Altman said AI could have a devastating effect on labor, reducing the work week from five days to one.
“He’s very straight,” said Mr. Liu, who has a degree in computer science.
Mr Altman visited Washington again in early May a white house Meeting with Ms. Harris and the CEOs of Microsoft, Google and AI start-up Anthropic. During the visit, he also discussed regulatory considerations and concerns regarding China’s development of AI with Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.
In mid-May, Mr. Altman returned for a two-day marathon of public and private appearances with lawmakers, beginning with a dinner hosted by Mr. Liu and Representative Mike Johnson, Republican of Louisiana, with 60 members of the House at the Capitol. Over a buffet of roast chicken, potatoes and salad, he enthralled the crowd for two and a half hours by showing ChatGPT and answering questions.
“Write a bill about naming the post office after Representative Ted LIU,” according to Mr. LIU, as he typed into the ChatGPT prompt that appeared on the big screen. “Write a speech for Representative Mike Johnson to introduce the bill,” he wrote as the second prompt.
The answers were reassuring, Mr. Liu said, and drew laughter and raised eyebrows from the audience.
The next morning, Mr. Altman testifies at a Senate hearing about the risks of AI. He presented a list of regulatory ideas and proposals supported by lawmakers included Mr. Blumenthal’s idea of consumer risk labels on AI tools that would be similar to nutrition labels for food.
“I am very used to witnesses coming in and trying to persuade us with talking points,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “The difference with Sam Altman is that he’s talking.”
After a three-hour hearing, Mr. Altman briefed the Senate Intelligence Committee on the security risks of AI. That evening, he spoke at Mr. Warner’s dinner at Harvest Tide Steakhouse on Capitol Hill. (Mr. Altman is a vegetarian.)
they have also benefited from a Partnerships Between OpenAI and Microsoft, Who has invested $13 billion in start-ups, Microsoft Chairman Brad Smith said that he and Mr. Altman gave each other feedback on the draft of the memo and the blog post. Mr. Smith said the companies also coordinated messages ahead of the White House meeting.
“Any day we can really support each other is a good day because we’re trying to do something together,” he said.
Some researchers and competitors said that OpenAI had too much influence on the debate over AI regulations. Maritje Schacke, a fellow at the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence at Stanford and a former member of the European Parliament, said Mr. Altman’s proposals on licensing and testing could benefit more established AI companies like his.
“He’s not only an expert, he’s a stakeholder,” Ms. Shakey said.