OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Interview Notes

Reid Hoffman interviewed Sam Altman a few days ago. Having been blown away by GPT-3 and now DALL-E, I had a listen on the train and took some notes. Enjoy!

Youtube link


Business opportunities?

  • Right now you could do a great copywriting business, or education service
  • Biggest short term opportunity is for creatives, being an assistant to them
  • We haven’t yet seen people go after the $1T opportunities. Expects a serious challenge to Google in the next few years based on a large language model (LLM)
  • Will finally see good chatbots, with great medical/educational services through those

Given large language models are delivered via an API service, how to create an enduring differentiated business on top?

  • Middle-layer becomes really important: tuning an existing LLM
    • eg tuning a model for medecine, education, friendship
    • with unique flywheel which improves over time
    • “We will not be doing prompt engineering in 5 years”
  • Doesn’t think we will see many new base models

What will some of the new surprises be?

  • For example people were surprised OpenAI could train from the internet data, but then be used to produce code (Copilot)
  • Doesn’t really answer the question, but does say that LLMs will create net new knowledge, it’s not just about indexing existing stuff

Science use-cases

  1. Science-dedicated products like AlphaFold. Will see a lot more of these
  2. Tools that make engineers/scientists more productive. Will have an outsized impact
  3. Will come later: AI scientist that can self-improve
  • Thinks the AI can help us align it… for instance you could ask it “don’t be racist” once it grasps these higher level concepts

Upcoming AI moonshots?

  • Language models will go a lot further than what people think. A lot of algorithmic progress to come
  • Multi-modal models coming. Not just texts and images, other media and all integrated
  • Models that continuously learn. For instance GPT-3 right now does not improve based on how much it is used

Metaverse and AI?

  • Expects that in the upside case the metaverse is on the order of a new compute platform like the iPhone
  • Whereas AI is like a technological revolution

Life sciences and current LLMs

  • So far models are not good enough
  • Some parts of the cycle time cannot be sped up, eg testing
  • “Simulators are still very bad”

Best utopian science-fiction?

  • Star Trek
  • The Last Question
  • Ian M Banks on Culture series (really need to try again to read this…)

Main societal issues in next 20-30 years as AI continues to grow?

  • Will need to work on wealth redistribution, how to govern it, and how to ensure fair access
  • OpenAI run the largest UBI research project in the world. 4 of 5 years in
  • Looking at how AI can help reskilling

Jobs replacement

  • The narrative was AI will come for blue collars, white collars, then artists and creative fields
  • But it seems to be going exactly the opposite way

Will leave you with…

“Super Mario getting his citizenship at Ellis Island”

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