The OpenAI board may have only taken a day or so after firing Sam Altman to figure out that they wanted him back – but it was too late. The man who has been so central to chatGPT is moving to Microsoft.
With that in mind, it’s a little bittersweet to go back and look at his comments from our interview not too long ago – at an event where Altman inspired a crowd of young people and others plugged in and interested in technology development.
Altman talked a lot about strategy and long-term management of technologies.
“People are doing pretty amazing things,” he said, citing much work on “new enablers” and saying that his company was still trying to figure out many things about evolving models.
There was also a lot of modesty, where Altman professed that “maybe there is something we’re missing” and that it would be “not good for us, but great for the world.” He suggested that people with big ideas will probably have to recalibrate them in the future, and when given several chances to promote himself as a guru for certain kinds of corporate development, he repeatedly refused.
Instead, Altman talked about tight work with developers and users, and the value of careful user observation.
“Let tactics become strategies,” he said of game plans in general.
Along with a lot of talk about the technical process of evolving chatGPT, Altman responded to questions about 2023 as a point in time that may become a pivotal moment in history:
“I hope that it will be a page in the history books,” he said.
All of that now seems kind of like strange foreshadowing, because it’s a big moment for Altman himself, and for the companies involved in this competition, which he likened to the ‘chips race’ of the late 20th century.
Then there was the part where Atman reflected on all of his work on his “baby” chatGPT – seven years of sweat equity in which he was deeply involved.
We were on the grind, sweating every detail,” he said. “Not a lot of people are willing to do that.”
Noting his “gradually increasing confidence,” during this time, Altman described when he knew that GPT was going to make its mark on the world.
At the end, we asked him about a halt on AI technology, which is notable given that some people are now accusing him of not taking safety precautions during this whole controversy about his firing.
In the interview, he urged caution, and suggested studying models carefully during development.
He said there are parts of the “thrust” that he agreed with, referring to a recent letter asking for a halt on new AI.
He also mentioned that it’s going to be a while before OpenAI starts making more successive versions of GPT.
All in all, Altman seems like a bright and introspective professional who’s likely to do well wherever he goes. We were pleased to have the opportunity to talk to him and ask questions, and get our attendees involved in some very instrumental conversation about a technology that’s fundamental right now. Regardless of where Altman lands, we are all working collaboratively on recognizing the positive benefits of AI and automation.
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