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Sam Altman’s sincerity impressed lawmakers at Tuesday’s hearing as he discussed AI’s destructive potential and supported proper regulation.
OpenAI CEO and Worldcoin co-founder Sam Altman recently testified in a US Congress hearing on artificial intelligence (AI). At Tuesday’s ‘historic’ hearing, Altman discussed possible government regulation of the AI space and fielded lawmakers’ questions about OpenAI’s views on regulation.
Several Congress members expressed concern about the potential harm artificial intelligence could cause if not properly overseen. In a show of sincerity and genuineness, Altman admitted his ‘worst fears’ were disrupting the world through AI technology. The OpenAI CEO suggested the potential harm AI poses could be catastrophic, saying, “If this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong.”
Sam Altman Agreed with Lawmakers at the Hearing on the Need to Create an Accountable AI Industry
Altman appeared willing to work with lawmakers on developing proper AI guardrails to minimize its potential risks and side effects. The OpenAI chief executive supported establishing a federal oversight agency capable of issuing and revoking development licenses. He also agreed that victims of AI technology should be able to take legal action against the developer. Altman testified alongside NYU professor Gary Marcus and IBM Chief of Trust Christina Montgomery at the AI hearing.
The three guest speakers aligned on most topics throughout the Congressional hearing. This included increased government oversight, support for privacy protections, third-party auditing, and immediate government AI regulation. However, IBM’s Montgomery disagreed with her fellow guest speakers on whether a federal agency is necessary to enforce AI regulations.
Montgomery argued against the need for a new specialized agency that licenses and oversees AI tools, instead suggesting a ‘surgical approach.’ The IBM CTrO said existing regulatory bodies could be deployed to focus enforcement on specific use cases.
Key Takeaways from Lawmakers’ Stance
At the hearing, lawmakers said that AI regulation should not repeat similar Congress missteps at the advent of the social media era. Lawmakers further stressed that AI side effects could surpass those of social media due to its incredible speed, scale, and operational sophistication. As Senate Judiciary Privacy, Technology, & the Law Subcommittee Chair Richard Blumenthal explained:
“Congress failed to meet the moment on social media; now we have the obligation to do it on AI before the threats and the risks become real.”
Blumenthal also referenced Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which has served as the tech space’s legal liability shield for over 20 years. In his opening remarks, the Democratic Connecticut Senator pointed out:
“We should not repeat our past mistakes. For example, Section 230. Forcing companies to think ahead and be responsible for the ramification of their business decisions can be the most powerful tool of all.”
Although the lawmaker committee at the hearing did not put forth specific regulatory proposals, it bounced around several ideas.
The Sam Altman AI hearing before Congress on Tuesday came after a previous closed session on Monday. The day before, the OpenAI CEO had piqued the interests of lawmakers at a private dinner. Congress attendees at the closed dinner were reportedly impressed as Altman exposited on the risks and opportunities posed by AI.