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Sam Altman is the CEO of the company that developed the fastest growing product in history, ChatGPT. While it’s an impressive feat, this isn’t your company’s main goal for OpenAI. His ambition is the so-called “artificial general intelligence”, a system that will self-reproduce and improve the capabilities of the human brain. At the age of 38, Altman no longer has the youth of a classic technology founder, but he is an exemplary product of Silicon Valley. His belief in the limitless power of technology is unwavering: “We have lost our collective sense of optimism about the future. We must all act as if we have a duty to restore it.” He said in May in Toronto that the only way I know of to return to that optimism is to use technology to create abundance. Without, he says, The abundance created by technology, there will be no democracy.
Altman is so dependent on technology that he is a poor seller of his current flagship product. It seems to him little and highlights his shortcomings as well as his virtues. ChatGPT, a program developed using artificial intelligence (AI) that provides plausible answers to most questions, is for Altman a “great but not powerful” technology, he emphasized at a recent conference. “On the first test you have the ‘That’s cool and ready’ reaction, but if you use it hundreds of times, you’ll see its weaknesses,” he explained. It’s like Quixote, but its windmills really do have some solid walls, they aren’t just dreams. The businessman connects his plan to achieve artificial general intelligence with the “Manhattan Project”, which Robert Oppenheimer led to build the atomic bomb. Altmann also likes to point out that he was born on the same day as Oppenheimer, April 22nd.
He has an exaggerated confidence in that AI, something we don’t even know if it’s possible. He is confident that it will happen in both his hopes and his fears: “The positive case is so unbelievably good that you sound crazy talking about it. Worst possible event is we all kick it,” he wrote on Twitter. Altman talks about these apocalyptic prophecies with the calmness of someone who has a beer with His friends, in fact he’s been doing it for years. In 2015 he wrote: “A popular topic of discussion among my friends: Will the end of the world be attributed to synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, or lack of energy/war?”
A popular topic of discussion among my friends: will the apocalypse be synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, or war/energy shortages?
—Sam Altman (@sama) March 17, 2015
Years before the pandemic, Altman had already embraced the community Junior higha group of people who are ready to survive the end of the world on Earth: “My problem is that when my friends get drunk they talk about how the world will end,” he expressed in a profile published in the magazine The New Yorker in 2016. “I try not to think about it too much, but I have guns, gold, potassium iodide, antibiotics, batteries, water, IDF gas masks and a farm in Southern California that I can fly to” he adds. In the aftermath of the pandemic, he continued to believe that we had seen nothing: “It is unlikely that this will be the worst new pandemic we will see in our lifetime,” he wrote.
A couple of McLarens in the garage
Traveling to his farm is not a metaphor: one of his greatest hobbies Recognized to charter aircraft to fly around California. The other is racing cars: He has two McLarens and an old Tesla, five cars in all. He also prepares annual lists that he reviews with physical and commercial targets. Follow a vegan diet and do intermittent fasting.
Altman grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, in the depths of America. By the age of eight, he was already into computers, as in these successful Silicon Valley profiles. He said in many interviews 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 these secrets. In 2015, at a dinner with Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and other Silicon Valley godfathers, they decided to found OpenAI. Their goal was to compete with Google and DeepMind so that they would not be the only ones controlling the explosion of artificial intelligence in the future. Altman’s relationship with Musk is over. Musk wanted to take full power in OpenAI, but they wouldn’t let him, and since then, he’s been trying to torpedo it.
Thiel, the founder of PayPal and Facebook, is one of his close friends. Before the pandemic, Altman said he would go into isolation at Thiel’s home in New Zealand. Thiel, a Trump apologist and founder of Palantir, a company with access to sensitive data and involved in military technology, gives him a reputation as a dark figure. Before the 2016 election, Altman had to make it clear that he did not support Trump, but would continue to work with Thiel.
3) Thiel is a big supporter of Trump. I do not agree with this. YC will not fire anyone for supporting a major party candidate.
—Sam Altman (@sama) October 17, 2016
OpenAI is the second start which Altman co-founded. The first was at the age of 19, Lubet, and for his development he left computer science at Stanford. It received seed funding from YCombinator, a platform that quickly became famous with the help of other tech companies like Reddit, Dropbox, or Airbnb. He managed to sell Loopt (which allowed selective location sharing with other people) for $43 million, even though he expected much more than that. At the age of 28, the founders of YCombinator offered him to run their program: “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 wasn’t innate, it completely developed before I was 20. I met Sam when I was 19 and I remember thinking then: ‘This is what Bill Gates should have been,'” he explained.
Why do I want more money
Money doesn’t seem to be one of his priorities: “I’ve earned more than I’ll ever need,” he asserts. A year ago she went shopping for her grandmother and later admitted to her mother that she had not been in a supermarket in four or five years. According to Graham, power matters more to him, and he has investments in a lot of areas startup companies with which he earned a lot of money. From OpenAI, he asserts that he only charges social security fees; He’s not in it for the profits. 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. The rest, always according to Altmann, would be for the betterment of mankind.
Now that global success has reached him, legends from his past have emerged. Altman is the typical young man who has been told by his brothers that he should run for president and does not take it as a joke. Altman speaks in a guttural voice and slowly, as if he likes to hear what his voice has to say. The comparisons it receives are naturally exorbitant: Kevin Scott, chief technology officer of Microsoft, whose company invested $10 billion in OpenAI this year, told The New York Times That Altman would end up on the same plane as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.
Although Altman is obviously not famous as a singer or athlete, his influence is even greater. This week he was in Madrid for 24 hours, as part of a world tour he’s organized to see and hear. Currently, he has met with the presidents of Spain, France, the United Kingdom and Germany. After speaking at IE University of Madrid, he spent half an hour chatting with the students. They took pictures of him and people wanted to tell him their stories (something Altmann himself had specifically requested). The conversation flowed as if someone was getting more attention at a cocktail party, but in a polite manner.
How to succeed
With his position at YCombinator, Altman has also become a mentor to startup companies. In 2014 he taught a course at Stanford University called How to Start a Startup. There he introduced this mathematical formula: “Result [de una startup] It is something like an idea [multiplicada] Each product for each execution of each team is by luck, where luck is a random number between zero and ten thousand. literally. But if you do really well in all four areas that you can control, you have at least a good chance of achieving some measure of success.” Scientist: “A great secret is that you can bend the world to your will. The percentage of time is amazing” or “Self-confidence is so powerful. The most successful people I know believe in themselves almost to the point of delusion.”
Ole start, Loopt, was an app for sharing your location with friends and family of your choice, and it’s one of those ideas that sound good until they collide with the complex realities of human life. Altman is today the co-founder of Worldcoin, a company that aims to collect irises from all humans to prove their identity. One of its purported purposes is that if an artificial general intelligence brings massive wealth to the world, that money can be distributed and actually identify humans. He always promises as much privacy as possible, but these are methods she seems to give little thought to their potential abuse. The business, for example, is just one of the future problems it intends to solve: its investment in Helion, start Nuclear fusion, is one of his major interests today.
Mixing humans and machines might sound like fantasy today, but it’s something Altman has joked about for years. Journalist The New Yorker who wrote his profile in 2016 jokingly said he used to go to the bathroom often: “I will practice going to the bathroom so often that humans don’t realize I’m an AI expert,” he replied.
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