Sam Altman

American venture-capitalist in Silicon Valley

Samuel Harris Altman (born 1985) is an American entrepreneur, investor, and programmer. He is the CEO of OpenAI and was the co-founder of Loopt. He previously was the president of Y Combinator and was briefly the CEO of Reddit.

Sam Harris Altman in 2019

Quotes

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2023

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  • I think AGI will be the best tool humanity has yet created. With it, we will be able to solve all sorts of problems. We'll be able to express ourselves in new creative ways. We'll make just incredible things for each other, for ourselves, for the world, for kind of this unfolding human story. And it's new, and anything new comes with change and change is not always all easy. But I think this will be just absolutely tremendous upside. And in nine more years if you're nice enough to invite me back, you'll roll this question and people will say, "How could we have thought we didn't want this?"
  • I think what we believe in very strongly, is that keeping the rate of change in the world relatively constant, rather than, say, go build AGI in secret and then deploy it all at once when you’re done, is much better. This idea that people relatively gradually have time to get used to this incredible new thing that is going to transform so much of the world, get a feel for it, have time to update. You know, institutions and people do not update very well overnight. They need to be part of its evolution, to provide critical feedback, to tell us when we’re doing dumb mistakes, to find the areas of great benefit and potential harm, to make our mistakes and learn our lessons when the stakes are lower than they will be in the future. Although we still would like to avoid them as much as we can, of course. And I don’t just mean we, I mean the field as a whole, sort of understanding, as with any new technology, where the tricky parts are going to be..
  • In a well functioning society, governments would be doing the AGI project and [nuclear] fusion and a whole bunch of things — and yet they’re not. So we either sit around and watch the gradual decline of state capacity and say ‘that’s a bummer’ and we’re just not going to have any more technical progress . . . or you do the next best thing and just build great companies.
  • Is [AI] gonna be like the printing press that diffused knowledge, power, and learning widely across the landscape that empowered ordinary, everyday individuals that led to greater flourishing, that led above all two greater liberty? Or is it gonna be more like the atom bomb – huge technological breakthrough, but the consequences (severe, terrible) continue to haunt us to this day?
  • We face serious risk. We face existential risk. The challenge that the world has is how we’re going to manage those risks and make sure we still get to enjoy those tremendous benefits. No one wants to destroy the world. Let's make sure we come together as a globe — and I hope this place can play a real role in this. We talk about the IAEA as a model where the world has said 'OK, very dangerous technology, let's all put some guard rails.' And I think we can do both. I think in this case, it's a nuanced message 'cause it's saying it's not that dangerous today but it can get dangerous fast. But we can thread that needle.
  • Trust the exponential. Flat looking backwards, vertical looking forwards.
    • Conversation on Twitter with Elon Musk (December 3, 2022)

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