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Sam Altman, ChatGPT Creator and OpenAI CEO, Urges Senate for A.I. Regulation

The tech executive and lawmakers agreed that new A.I. systems must be regulated. Just how that would happen is not yet clear.

Cecilia Kang, who covers tech policy, reported from Washington.

The tone of congressional hearings involving tech industry executives in recent years can best be described as antagonistic. Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and other tech luminaries have all been dressed down on Capitol Hill by lawmakers upset with their companies.

But on Tuesday, Sam Altman, the chief executive of the San Francisco start-up OpenAI, testified before members of a Senate subcommittee hearing and largely agreed with them on the need to regulate the increasingly powerful A.I. technology being created inside his company and others like Google and Microsoft.

The boyish-looking Mr. Altman traded in his usual pullover sweater and jeans for a blue suit and tie as he offered a loose framework to manage what happens next with the fast-developing systems that some believe could fundamentally change the economy.

“I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong. And we want to be vocal about that,” he said. “We want to work with the government to prevent that from happening.”

The appearance of Mr. Altman, a 38-year-old Stanford University dropout and tech entrepreneur, was his christening as the leading figure in A.I. He was joined at the hearing by an executive from IBM and a well-known professor and frequent critic of A.I. technology.

Mr. Altman said his company’s technology may destroy some jobs but also create new ones, and that it will be important for “government to figure out how we want to mitigate that.” He proposed the creation of an agency that issues licenses for the creation of large-scale A.I. models, safety regulations and tests that A.I. models must pass before being released to the public.

“We believe that the benefits of the tools we have deployed so far vastly outweigh the risks, but ensuring their safety is vital to our work,” Mr. Altman said.

But after nearly three hours of questioning in Tuesday’s hearing, it was unclear how lawmakers would respond to the call to regulate A.I. The track record of Congress on tech regulations is grim. Dozens of privacy, speech, and safety bills have failed because of partisan bickering and fierce opposition by tech giants.

Lawmakers brought up the idea of an independent agency to oversee A.I., rules that force companies to disclose how their models work and the data sets they use, and antitrust rules to prevent companies like Microsoft and Google from monopolizing the nascent industry.

Lawmakers were generally friendly toward Mr. Altman, thanking him for his private meetings with them and for agreeing to appear in the hearing. They approached him as an educator.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Category: Technology

Source: NYTimes Technology

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