OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman appeared before Congress on Tuesday morning to testify about the dangers posed by emerging artificial intelligence technologies, including his company’s ChatGPT AI chatbot.
The hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law offered congressional members the chance to question Mr Altman and other tech leaders about the “urgent” need to create regulations around AI.
Senators questioned Mr Altman, and the other witnesses, Gary Marcus, a Professor Emeritus at New York University and Christina Montgomery the chief privacy and trust officer at IBM, about the need to AI regulations.
Mr Altman spoke to the dangers of artificial intelligence harming the integrity of future elections, manipulating individuals’ opinions, limiting access to certain information and copyright infringement among other things.
The OpenAI CEO offered possible solutions like creating an international regulator committee or agency, led by the US.
“My worst fears are that [the AI industry] cause significant harm to the world,” Mr Altman said.
Ahead of the hearing, Committee Chairman Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), said, “Artificial intelligence urgently needs rules and safeguards to address its immense promise and pitfalls.”
Sam Altman Congress hearing live: Watch the stream
Here’s the live stream if you want to watch along:
Hello and welcome...
to The Independent’s live coverage of OpenAI boss Sam Altman’s first ever appearance before Congress.
The tech executive will be appearing alongside Gary Marcus, Professor Emeritus at New York University, and Christina Montgomery, chief privacy officer at IBM, to face questions from the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology & the Law.
The hearing will begin at 10am local time (3pm BST), and we’ll be bringing you all the build-up for what could be a critical day for establishing AI rules and limits in the US.
Sam Altman Congress hearing live: How to watch
There’s just over an hour to go until OpenAI CEO Sam Altman appears before Congress, alongside New York University Professor Gary Marcus and IBM executive Christina Montgomery.
We’ll have a live stream of the hearing for you to watch right here, pinned to the top of this page, as soon as it’s available.
It’s not clear yet how long it will last, but these things tend to go on for a few hours with most or all of the Senators wanting to use their maximum time to air their concerns and pose their questions.
Sam Altman Congress hearing live: What to expect from the Senate Committee
Today’s hearing will see Sam Altman testify before Congress for the first time ever, following in the footsteps of many of his high-profile peers in the tech industry.
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology & the Law are expected to ask him about AI risks and how best to establish safeguards to protect against them.
Here’s what US Senators Richard Blumenthal and Josh Hawley, Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, had to say ahead of today’s hearing:
Sam Altman Congress hearing live: Opening remarks from committee chair
The hearing is underway, with US Senator Richard Blumenthal, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, saying in his opening remarks that the hearing aims to “demystify and hold accountable the technology”.
He begins by using an AI voice cloning software to read a text in his voice. The text is written by OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
It’s pretty convincing. The AI begins: “Too often we have seen what happens when technology outpaces regulation.”
Senator Blumenthal says it may seem amusing but he fears what would happen if the same technology was used to mislead people into thinking he had made an endorsement of Vladimir Putin.
His biggest immediate fear, however, is the “looming new industrial revolution” that will leave millions unemployed when AI displaces their jobs.
Sam Altman Congress hearing live: Senator warns AI could be as devastating as the atom bomb
Senator Blumenthal ends his opening remarks saying “the ideas that we develop from this discussion will provide a solid path forward” for establishing regulation for the AI industry.
He adds that it will be the first of many hearings on artificial intelligence.
Senator Josh Hawley, ranking member of the committee, adds some remarks.
“We could be looking at one of the significant technological innovations in human history”, he says.
He speculates it could be as great as the advent of the printing press, or as devastating as the atom bomb.
Sam Altman Congress hearing live: ChatGPT boss says AI could be ‘printing press moment’
Sam Altman and the other witnesses swear in, before the OpenAI boss gets underway with his opening remarks.
“It’s really an honour to be here,” he says.
“OpenAI was founded on the belief that AI has the potential to improve nearly every aspect of our lives... We think it can be a printing press moment.”
AI Congress hearing live: Artificial intelligence is ‘bull in a china shop'
Christina Montgomery, chief privacy officer at IBM, is up next to give her opening remarks.
She says the era of AI should not be part of the “move fast and break things” culture that has driven Silicon Valley since its early days.
Gary Marcus, Professor Emeritus at New York University, follows up by saying he is worried about the rapid development of artificial intelligence.
“We have built machines that are like bulls in a china shop: Powerful, wreckless and difficult to control,” he says.
AI Congress hearing live: ‘We are facing the perfect storm'
The professor continues: “We are facing a perfect storm of corporate irresponsibility, widespread deployment, lack of adequate regulation, and inherent unreliability... The choices we make now will have lasting effects, for decades, maybe even centuries.”
Seven minute rounds of questioning will now follow.
AI Congress hearing live: AI is ‘bomb in a china shop'
Senator Blumenthal agrees with Professor Marcus’s “perfect strom” assessment, but says it is less like a bull in a china shop and more like a “bomb in a china shop”.
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