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“I don’t care if we burn $50 billion a year, we’re building AGI,” says Sam Altman

The pursuit of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) comes with a hefty price tag, according to Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI. Altman's recent remarks underscore the organization's unwavering commitment to advancing AI technology, regardless of the financial sacrifices involved

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In a recent talk at Stanford eCorner, Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, expressed his resolute determination to create Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), regardless of the financial cost. “Whether we burn $500 million, $5 billion, or $50 billion a year, I don’t care. I genuinely don’t as long as we can stay on a trajectory where eventually we create way more value for society than that and as long as we can figure out a way to pay the bills,” he stated emphatically.

Altman’s conviction in the importance of developing AGI was evident when he added, “We are making AGI, and it is going to be expensive and totally worth it.” This statement underscores OpenAI’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence, even if it means incurring substantial expenses.

The Rapid Advancement of Language Models

When asked about ChatGPT, the popular language model that has taken the world by storm, Altman surprisingly described it as “embarrassing.” He went on to say that “GPT-4 is the dumbest model anyone of you will ever have to use,” emphasizing the importance of shipping early and often and the company’s belief in deploying iteratively.

Altman also shed light on the rapid advancement of language models, stating that GPT-5 will be significantly smarter than GPT-4, and GPT-6 will surpass GPT-5 in intelligence. “We are not near the top of this curve…and it is always going to get better,” he added, hinting at the exponential growth in the capabilities of these AI models.

Transparency and Being Good Neighbors

Altman stressed the importance of transparency in the development of AGI, saying, “If we go build AGI in the basement, then the world is walking blissfully blindfolded.” He emphasized that such an approach would not make OpenAI good neighbors and that the development of AGI is inevitable.

The Unexpected Need for Compute and Funding

Reflecting on the early days of OpenAI, Altman admitted that he didn’t initially realize the immense amount of money required for compute. “We didn’t know that we are going to have this nice business,” he said, explaining that the original goal was simply to advance AI research.

Altman’s stance on burning vast sums of money to build AGI has sparked discussions on X (formerly Twitter), with some users speculating that “he knows money no longer has value when they have achieved AGI.” Others view the potential cost as “a minuscule price to pay for something that could transform humanity.”

Earlier this year, reports emerged that Altman was seeking investments of $5-7 trillion to “reshape the business of chips and AI,” further highlighting the scale of his ambitions and the resources required to achieve them.

As OpenAI continues to push the frontiers of artificial intelligence, Altman’s unwavering commitment to building AGI, coupled with the rapid advancements in language models like GPT, has the potential to reshape the landscape of AI and its impact on society. While the financial costs may be staggering, Altman remains steadfast in his belief that the value created by AGI will far outweigh the investments made along the way. As the world watches the unfolding of this technological revolution, the implications of Altman’s vision and OpenAI’s work are sure to have far-reaching consequences for the future of humanity.

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