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OpenAI chief ‘encouraged’ by talks with world leaders on willingness to limit AI risks

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said Monday he was encouraged by a desire by world leaders to limit any risks associated with the artificial intelligence technology his company and others are developing.

Altman visited Tel Aviv, a tech powerhouse, as part of a world tour that has so far taken him to several European capitals. Altman’s tour is meant to promote his company, the creator of ChatGPT – the popular AI chatbot – which has sparked a frenzy around the world.

“I’m very encouraged when I̵[ads1]7;ve done this trip around the world, meeting world leaders,” Altman said during a visit with Israel’s ceremonial president Isaac Herzog. Altman said his discussions showed “thoughtfulness” and “urgency” among world leaders about how to figure out how to “mitigate these very enormous risks.”

The world tour comes after hundreds of researchers and leaders in the technology industry, including high-level executives at Microsoft and Google, issued a warning about the dangers artificial intelligence poses to humanity. Altman was also a signatory.

Concerns about artificial intelligence systems outwitting humans and running amok have intensified with the rise of a new generation of highly capable AI chatbots. Countries around the world are scrambling to come up with regulations for developing technology, with the EU following suit with its AI Act expected to be approved later this year.

In a speech at Tel Aviv University, Altman said “it would be a mistake to heavily regulate the field right now or to try to slow down the incredible innovation.”

But he said there is a risk of creating a “superintelligence that is not really well aligned” with society’s needs in the coming decade. He proposed the formation of a “global organization, which at the very highest end at the frontier of computing power and techniques, could have a framework to license models, to audit the security of them, to propose tests required to be passed.” He compared it to the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Israel has emerged in recent years as a technological leader, with its industry producing some remarkable technology used around the world.

“With the great possibilities of this incredible technology, there are also many risks to humanity and to human independence in the future,” Herzog told Altman. “We must ensure that this development is used for the well-being of humanity.”

Among the more controversial exports has been Pegasus, a powerful and sophisticated spyware product from the Israeli company NSO, which critics say has been used by authoritarian countries to spy on activists and dissidents. The Israeli military has also begun using artificial intelligence for certain tasks, including crowd control procedures.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he had had phone conversations with both Altman and Twitter owner Elon Musk in the past 24 hours.

Netanyahu said he planned to establish a team to discuss a “national policy on artificial intelligence” for both civilian and military purposes. “Just as we made Israel a global cyber power, we will do the same in artificial intelligence,” he said.

Altman has met world leaders including UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Altman tweeted that he is going to Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, India and South Korea this week.

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