Sunday, June 4, 2023

Who is Sam Altman: Millionaire Creator of ChatGPT, Guru of ‘Startups’ and Prophet of Doom

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Sam Altman is the CEO of the company that developed ChatGPT, the fastest growing product in history. While an incredible achievement, it is not the main goal of your company OpenAI. Their aspiration is the so-called “general artificial intelligence”, a system that reproduces and improves upon the capabilities of the human brain itself. At 38, Altman no longer has the youthfulness of a classic tech founder, but he is the quintessential Silicon Valley product. His belief in the limitless power of technology remains constant: “We have lost a collective sense of optimism about the future. We must all act as if it is a duty to get it back. The way I am about returning to that optimism I know that’s using technology to create abundance,” he said in Toronto in May. He says that without the abundance created by technology, there would be no democracy.

Altman is so dependent on the technology that it’s a poor salesperson for its current flagship product. It makes him feel small and highlights his shortcomings as well as his virtues. ChatGPT, a program developed with artificial intelligence (AI) that gives plausible answers to most questions, is an “impressive, but not robust” technology for Altman, as he emphasized at a recent conference. “On the first test you have a reaction of ‘it’s awesome and it’s ready,’ but if you use it a hundred times, you see its weaknesses,” he explained. It’s like a Quixote, but whose windmills already have some solid wall, they’re not just dreams. The entrepreneur equated his plan to achieve general AI to the “Manhattan Project”, for which Robert Oppenheimer built the atomic bomb. As Altman likes to point out, he was born on the same day as Oppenheimer, 22 April.

They have an exaggerated belief in that general artificial intelligence, which is something we don’t even know if it’s possible. And he’s confident it will be, both in his hopes and fears: “The positive case is so incredibly good that you sound like a crazy person talking about it. The worst possible event is that we all kick it.” are,” he wrote on Twitter. Altman talks about these apocalyptic predictions with the calmness of someone who drinks beer with friends, in fact he’s been doing so for years. In 2015 he wrote: “Topic of popular discussion among my friends: Will the end of the world be caused by synthetic biology, AI or energy shortage/war?”

Years before the pandemic, Altman had already embraced the community PreparationA group of people prepared to survive the apocalypse on Earth: “My problem is that when my friends get drunk they talk about how the world is going to end,” he expressed in a profile published in the magazine new yorker In 2016. “I try not to think about it too much, but I have guns, gold, potassium iodide, antibiotics, batteries, water, gas masks from the Israeli army, and a ranch in Southern California where I can fly,” he said. adds up. In the aftermath of the pandemic, he believes we’ve seen nothing: “This is unlikely to be the worst new pandemic we’ll see in our lifetime,” he wrote.

Some McLarens in the Garage

flying over his farm is not a metaphor: one of his two great Hobby Chartering planes to fly around California is recognized. The second is racing cars: he owns a few McLarens and a vintage Tesla, five cars in total. He also makes an annual inventory which he reviews with material and business objectives. Follow a vegetarian diet and take intermittent fasting.

Altman grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, in the deep US. At age eight he was already tinkering with computers, as is de rigueur among these successful profiles in Silicon Valley. In several interviews he has said that it was not easy being a teenager and gay in that area in the early 2000s. His first Mac and online forums helped him share those secrets. In 2015, over dinner with Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and other Silicon Valley godfathers, he decided to found OpenAI. Their goal was to compete with Google and DeepMind so that they would not be alone in dominating the AI ​​explosion of the future. Altman’s relationship with Musk has come to an end. Musk wanted to take full power in OpenAI, but he didn’t let that happen and since then, he has been trying to torpedo its activity.

Thiel, the founder of PayPal and Facebook, is one of his close friends. Before the pandemic, Altman had said he would go into self-isolation at Thiel’s home in New Zealand. Thiel, Trump’s defender and founder of Palantir, a company with access to sensitive data and involved in military technology, has earned him a reputation as a dark character. Before the 2016 election, Altman had to make it clear that he did not endorse Trump, but would continue to work with Thiel.

OpenAI is second start up which was co-founded by Altman. The first was Lupt at age 19, and he dropped out of computer science studies at Stanford to develop it. It received initial funding from YCombinator, a platform that soon became famous for helping other technology companies to be born, such as Reddit, Dropbox or Airbnb. He managed to sell the loopt (which allows selective space sharing with others) for $43 million, although he expected much more. At age 28, the founders of YCombinator offered him to run their platform: “He has a natural ability to persuade people,” says Paul Graham, the founder of that company and a prominent figure in Silicon Valley. “If it’s not innate, I had it fully developed before I was 20. I met Sam when I was 19 and I remember thinking then: ‘So Bill Gates should have been like that,” he explained.

why do i need more money

Money doesn’t seem to be one of his priorities: “I’ve made more than I ever need,” he assures. A year ago she went shopping for her grandmother and later confessed to her mother that she had not been to the supermarket for four or five years. According to Graham, he is more interested in power, and he has many investments. startup From which he has earned a lot of money. From OpenAI, he assures, he only charges Social Security; He is not in it for profit. In 2016 he said he didn’t want much: his house in San Francisco, his cars, his ranch in Southern California and a $10 million reserve, whose annual interest would cover his expenses, were enough. According to Altman, the rest will always have to improve humanity.

Now that global success has come to him, legends from his past emerge. Altman is a typical young man who is told by his brothers that he should run for president and doesn’t see it as a joke. Altman speaks in a guttural voice and slowly, as if he prefers to hear what his voice-over is going to say. The comparisons they get are already inherently excessive: Kevin Scott, Microsoft’s chief technology officer, whose company has invested $10 billion in OpenAI this year, told new York Times Altman would end up on the same plane as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

Although Altman is not obviously famous as a singer or player, his influence is greater. This week he was in Madrid for 24 hours, as part of a global tour he organized to hear and be heard. He has currently met the Presidents of Spain, France, United Kingdom and Germany. After the talk at Madrid’s IE University, he interacted with the students for half an hour. He took pictures of her and people wanted to tell her their stories (some Altman specifically requested). The conversation went on like someone seeking more attention at a cocktail party, but in a polite way.

how to be successful

With his post at YCombinator, Altman also became a guru. startup, In 2014 he taught a course at Stanford called “How to Start a Startup”. There he provided this mathematical formula: “The result [de una startup] it’s like a thought [multiplicada] per product per execution per team by luck, where luck is a random number between zero and ten thousand. Literally. But if you do really well in all four of the areas that you can control, you have a pretty good chance of at least some degree of success.” This experience in the business world gave him the “how to be successful”. inspired her to write posts with titles such as, where there are phrases that illustrate her way of seeing the world: “One of the great secrets is that you can bend the world to your will and percent wonderful time” or “Confidence Very powerful. The most successful people I know believe in themselves almost to the point of delusion.”

his first start upLupt, an app for sharing your location with friends and family of your choice, was one of those ideas that sounds cool until it collides with the reality of complicated human life. Altman is today the co-founder of WorldCoin, a company that aims to collect all human eyeballs to prove their identity. One of its purported purposes is that if general AI brings immense wealth to the world, that money can be redistributed and pre-identified by humans. It always promises greater privacy, but these are approaches that give little thought to their potential abuse. Work, for example, is one of the future problems it wants to solve: its investment in Helion, start up Nuclear fusion is one of his greatest interests today.

The confusion between humans and machines may seem like a fantasy today, but Altman has poked fun at it over the years. journalists of new yorker The person who wrote his profile in 2016 joked that he used to go to the bathroom less often: “I’ll practice going to the bathroom more often so humans don’t realize I’m an AI,” he replied.

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