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Executive Behind ChatGPT Reveals How Nation Could Respond To AI-Driven Unemployment

  OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testified before members of the   Senate   on Tuesday about the risks from   artificial intelligence   advancements,...

 OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testified before members of the Senate on Tuesday about the risks from artificial intelligence advancements, encouraging lawmakers to implement regulations.

ChatGPT, a mass-market AI system developed by OpenAI, has gained widespread popularity over the last six months as knowledge workers use the tool to complete tasks such as writing code and drafting emails in a matter of seconds. Altman, who dined on Monday evening with five dozen lawmakers, said in opening remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning that he knows the firm’s technology will have “profound impacts” on the world.

“We take the risks of this technology very seriously and will continue to do so in the future,” he remarked. “We believe that government and industry together can manage the risks so that we can all enjoy the tremendous potential.”

Skeptics of recent AI innovations note that widespread technological unemployment could stem from the increased sophistication and prevalence of AI solutions. One recent forecast from Goldman Sachs estimated that AI could eliminate 7% of positions in the United States, largely in sectors that rely on office work such as administrative support and legal, while positions in sectors such as construction and logistics are forecasted to remain broadly intact.

Some analysts note that AI systems render individual workers considerably more productive, implying avenues for economic growth and more opportunities for creative work as the rote elements within many professions are automated.

Altman suggested that policymakers should consider “modernizing unemployment insurance benefits” and “creating adjustment assistance programs for workers impacted by AI advancements.” Cities and states have piloted universal basic income initiatives in recent years as they examine mechanisms to soften the impact of future technological unemployment.

“We understand that new AI tools can have profound impacts on the labor market. As part of our mission, we are working to understand the economic impacts of our products and take steps to minimize any harmful effects for workers and businesses,” Altman continued. “We expect significant economic impacts from AI in the near-term, including a mix of increased productivity for individual users, job creation, job transformation, and job displacement. We are actively seeking to understand the relative proportions of these factors.”

Beyond the potential economic effects of the nascent innovations, lawmakers and technology experts have noted the possible spread of false information and so-called deepfakes, which could impact news cycles and disrupt the legal system. Elon Musk, a co-founder of OpenAI who has since resigned his seat on the company’s board of directors, and Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple, made headlines after they signed an open letter for the Future of Life Institute, which called for a six-month moratorium on developing AI solutions; Geoffrey Hinton, a veteran computer scientist, resigned from his position at Google over his concerns about AI.


Altman said that the federal government could impose “internal and external testing” requirements on companies before they release new solutions, facilitate experts and organizations to “develop and regularly update” safety standards, and implement “licensing regulations on a global scale” with other governments.

The calls for regulation occur as technology firms compete to incorporate AI developments into their products. Microsoft invested billions of dollars into ChatGPT creator OpenAI and announced earlier this year that the system would be added to search engine Bing, while Google revealed one day later that Bard, an experimental conversational AI service, would soon be added to the company’s search engine. Workforce instant messaging company Slack will include AI components in its platforms, while fast food chains such as Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s will leverage the technology to enable voice ordering drive-thru systems.

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