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Blumenthal Questions OpenAI CEO, IBM Privacy Chief, & Leading AI Expert About Establishing Safeguards for Artificial Intelligence

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

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, questioned OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, IBM Chief Privacy & Trust Officer Christina Montgomery, and NYU Professor Gary Marcus at today’s hearing titled, “Oversight of AI: Rules for Artificial Intelligence.”

Ensuring AI’s Accuracy

Blumenthal asked Altman about the importance of ensuring AI’s accuracy, citing ChatGPT and Bard’s ability to answer questions about life or death matters.

“I'm interested in how we can add reliable information about the accuracy and trustworthiness of these models and how we can create competition and consumer disclosures that will reward greater accuracy,” said Blumenthal. “Should we consider independent testing labs to provide scorecards and nutrition labels, or the equivalent of nutrition labels, packaging, that indicates to people whether or not the content can be trusted, what the ingredients are?”

“I think that's a great idea. I think that companies should put their own sort of, you know, here the results of our test of our model before we release it, here's where it has weaknesses, here's where it's has strengths,” Altman responded. “But also independent audits for that are very important.”

AI’s Impact on Jobs & the Economy

Blumenthal stressed his concerns about the impact AI may have on jobs and the broader economy, asking Altman about how the technology could impact the future.

“Like with all technological revolutions, I expect there to be significant impact on jobs. But exactly what that impact looks like, it's very difficult to predict,” said Altman, who stated that AI will help improve people’s jobs and efficiency. “GPT4 will, I think, entirely automate away some jobs, and it will create new ones that we believe will be much better…So there will be an impact on jobs. We try to be very clear about that. And I think it will require partnership between the industry and government, but mostly action by government to figure out how we want to mitigate that.”

Christina Montgomery, Vice President and Chief Privacy and Trust Officer at IBM, added, “It’s going to change every job. New jobs will be created. Many more jobs will be transformed and some jobs will transition away,” she said. “I think the most important thing that we could be doing and can and should be doing now is to prepare the workforce of today and the workforce of tomorrow for partnering with AI technologies and using them.”

Gary Marcus, Professor Emeritus at New York University, shared Blumenthal’s concerns and said, “I think in the long run, so called artificial general intelligence really will replace a large fraction of human jobs.”

Safeguarding Consumers’ Privacy

Blumenthal asked Altman about OpenAI’s efforts to protect users’ privacy and data.

“What specific steps do you take to protect privacy?” asked Blumenthal.

“We don’t train on any data submitted to our API. So if you’re a business customer of ours and submit data, we don’t train on it at all,” said Altman. “If you use Chat GPT, you can opt out of us training on your data; you can also delete your conversation history or your whole account.”

Avoiding AI’s Unintended Consequences

Blumenthal concluded by asking Altman, “what your biggest nightmare is?” when it comes to AI and how we can avoid unintended consequences of the evolving technology.

“My worst fears are that we cause significant, we the field, the technology, the industry, cause significant harm to the world,” said Altman. “I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong. And we want to be vocal about that. We want to work with the government to prevent that from happening. But we try to be very clear-eyed about what the downside case is and the work that we have to do to mitigate that.”

Video of Blumenthal questioning the witnesses can be found here and here.