OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Said A.I. Won’t Save Him in a Real-World Crisis

"I think it's silly that's what people assume [A.I. is] for. It was just like a boyhood dream that stuck."

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman
Sam Altman talks to reporters as he arrives for the “AI Insight Forum” outside the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on September 13, 2023 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sam Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT creator OpenAI and a self-admitted doomsday prepper, said artificial intelligence won’t save him in a real-world crisis such as a rogue A.I. taking on human beings. Speaking onstage at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference yesterday (Sept. 12) in San Francisco, Altman told Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff he has “no delusions” that any future A.I. advancement is going to protect us if the technology itself goes wrong.

“I think it’s silly that’s what people assume [A.I. is] for,” the OpenAI CEO said. “It was just like a boyhood dream that stuck.”

Altman has reportedly admitted to two fellow entrepreneurs that he owns guns, gold, potassium iodide, antibiotics, “gas masks from the Israeli Defense Force, and a big patch of land in Big Sur” in California he can fly to in the event of a global catastrophe.

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Altman is among a group of tech leaders advocating for more regulation on the rapid advancement of A.I., in which his company plays a key role. OpenAI’s text generator, ChatGPT, has taken the world by storm since its debut in November 2022. As the company develops more capable models, such as GPT-4, and a crop of startups enter the generative A.I. scene, a number of entrepreneurs and government officials are sounding the alarm about the potential harm A.I. could do.

In May, Altman testified before Congress about the risks of A.I. He recommended the government establish a new agency to test and license new A.I. models, especially powerful ones like OpenAI’s GPT-4, before they are allowed to be deployed.

“If A.I. is as powerful as we think and people can do significant harm with it—I don’t see a world where we don’t have less surveillance,” Altman said yesterday. “I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

He added, “Getting something going, even if just focused on insight and not oversight, I think would be great.”

Today, Altman is in Washington, D.C. along with Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and other tech executives to discuss A.I. regulation with lawmakers. Altman and Pichai attended a similar meeting at the White House in May.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Said A.I. Won’t Save Him in a Real-World Crisis