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OpenAI CEO says ‘optimistic’ on global AI coordination

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Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT maker OpenAI, attends an open dialogue with students at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan June 12, 2023. REUTERS/Issei Kato

The CEO of ChatGPT maker OpenAI on Monday said a tour of capital cities had left him “quite optimistic” about prospects for global coordination on artificial intelligence (AI).

The public face of the startup, backed by Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), has been on a whirlwind tour looking to capitalise on interest in generative AI and exert influence on regulation of the burgeoning technology.

“I came to the trip … sceptical that it was going to be possible in the short term to get global cooperation to reduce existential risk but I am now wrapping up the trip feeling quite optimistic we can get it done,” Sam Altman told students in Tokyo.

Regulators are scrambling to adapt existing rules and create new guidelines to govern the use of generative AI, which can create text and images and is engendering excitement and fear about its potential to reshape a wide range of industries.

The European Union is moving ahead with its draft AI Act, which is expected to become law this year, while the United States is leaning toward adapting existing laws for AI rather than creating new legislation.

Altman visited Japan in April, meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and saying he was considering opening an office in country.

“All of the conversations have progressed quite well,” Altman said on Monday without providing detail.

Japan is seen as a laggard in the types of AI services currently generating enthusiasm among consumers even as its manufacturing heavyweights invest in automation technology.

“There’s a long history of humans and machines working together here,” Altman said.

Altman is due to visit Singapore, Indonesia and Australia before returning to the US.

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