Before he left elementary school, he was a tech whiz, dropped out of one of America’s top universities, and now appears to be leading a revolution that could change our lives forever.
So has Silicon Valley, so far.
Like many billionaire entrepreneurs emerging from notoriously sunny California, OpenAI’s Sam Altman appears to be becoming a household name.
Most people outside tech circles didn’t know the 38-year-old freshman until his company launched a groundbreaking chatbot Chat GPTbut he now spends an increasingly precious chunk of his time talking to world leaders and some of America’s best-known executives.
His rise to “a prominent figure in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship” (that’s the main founder of ChatGPT, not the exact words in my introduction) began in his childhood home in Missouri, where eight-year-old Altman Got gifted with his first computer and quickly learned not only how to use it but also to program it.
Altman attended John Burroughs School in St. Louis and told The New Yorker in a 2016 interview that his computer helped him come to terms with his sexuality and to come to terms with his parents as a teenager. cabinet.
“Growing up gay in the Midwest in the 2000s wasn’t the greatest thing,” he recalls. “Finding the AOL chat room was transformative. When you’re 11 or 12, secrets are bad.”
School is in the rearview mirror, and it’s time for college—Stanford, no less. Altman attended prestigious California institution to study computer science, but dropped out after just two years, following in the footsteps of previous dropouts who became tech superstars bill gates and mark Zuckerbergboth dropped their Harvard degrees before becoming two of the most influential CEOs in history.
Giving up a prized spot at one of America’s top universities seems like such a rite of passage for the country’s leading tech entrepreneurs that It fit right into the success story of the now-disgraced Elizabeth Holmeshis departure from Stanford to Silicon Valley sparked a wave of media attention not unlike the current focus on Altman.
His first venture out of college was a smartphone app called Loopt, which allows users to optionally share their real-time location with others. It has raised around $30m (£24m) to launch the company with funding from a start-up accelerator called Y Combinator, which lists the likes of Airbnb and Twitch among internet companies it has helped build.
Altman became president of Y Combinator in 2014 after selling Loopt for $44m (£35m) in 2012. He also started his own venture capital fund, called Hydrazine Capital, which attracted enough investment to make it to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list as venture capital. As if he wasn’t busy enough, Altman also ran Reddit for a total of eight days during a leadership shakeup in 2014, describing his tenure as “a bit of fun.”
The rise of OpenAI
While his time at Reddit only lasted eight days, his oversight of OpenAI has now lasted eight years. He said in a tweet in February that he was “doing a good job” at it (compared, of course, to Loopt, which he now says “sucks”).
he somehow started the company Elon Musk (who only ran SpaceX and tesla At the time) in 2015, the two, along with others, provided funding amazon and Microsofttotaling $1bn (£800m).
It is run as a non-profit organization with the lofty goal of developing artificial intelligence while ensuring it does not wipe out humanity.
So far, the mission has been accomplished — but if Altman’s words are to be believed, the risks from here on out do become very real.
During his tenure, OpenAI ceased to be a non-profit and is now valued at a whopping $29bn (£23bn), thanks to the massive success of its generative AI tools — ChatGPT for text and GPT for graphs. Like the DALL-E .
Microsoft boss Satya Nadella described Altman as an “incredible entrepreneur” who made big bets, and the success of OpenAI was hard to argue with.
ChatGPT has amassed tens of millions of users within weeks of its launch in late 2022, and its ability to pass the world’s toughest exams has wowed experts and casual observers alike, via job applicationmake up anything political speech arrive child’s homeworkand write your own computer code.
Suddenly, the concept of a large language model (meaning it is trained on a large amount of text data so that it can understand our requests and respond accordingly) is a mainstream buzzword and its popularity is evident Microsoft Investing additional funds in OpenAI and bringing technology into its Bing search engine and office application.
Google is also involved with its Bard chatbot, Some of China’s biggest tech companies enter the racewhile Musk — who left OpenAI in 2018 due to a conflict of interest with Tesla’s work on self-driving AI — He said he also wanted to launch his own.
At the same time, OpenAI’s technology has been improving — an upgrade called GPT-4 came within a few months of ChatGPT’s release Shows how quickly these models can be developed.
We asked a chatbot to help write an article
“My worst fear”
But for all the wonders such a system offers, it matches — if not exceeds — the concerns. Whether it’s spreading disinformation or laying off workers, governments are scrambling to devise an effective way to regulate a technology that seems destined to change the world forever.
Maybe looking at how some of his Silicon Valley contemporaries Failing to act on the danger they create before it is too lateAltman seems enthusiastic about being a willing participant in how it should be done.
“My greatest concern is that our industry will do significant harm to the world,” Altman told the U.S. Senatehis assessment that government regulation will be “critical to mitigating risk” is certainly good news for politicians who never seem to be impressed by figures in the tech world.
Who is the “Godfather of Artificial Intelligence”?
In just a few weeks Altman met with US Vice President Kamala Harris, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – All politicians who share their hopes and fears about the potential benefits and dangers of artificial intelligence.
EU does not appear to have Impressed by Elon Musk’s Twitter operationTikTok manages to accomplish the near-impossible Uniting Democrats and Republicans Against a Common Enemywhile Mark Zuckerberg has been working on Repairing his reputation after the Cambridge Analytica scandalthe upstart Altman may position himself as a more enduring tech star than some of his predecessors.
But just in case it all goes wrong, he previously admitted to being a prepper – If the worst were to befall us, he’d be stocking up on everything from guns to medicine.
Hope he’s being overly cautious.