its creator pes the hearing test in the US Congress

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, testifies at the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and Law, in Washington, May 16, 2023.

The image is unpublished. And symbolizes the importance taken by artificial intelligence (AI) since the launch in November 2022 of ChatGPT: Tuesday, May 16, Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the creator of this conversational robot was auditioned in the American Congress, by the members of the Senate Legal Affairs Committee. This political and media exercise shows the growing attention to which this leader is subject and, more broadly, generative artificial intelligence, capable of producing stunning texts or images.

For the occasion, Mr. Altman had put aside his jeans and sweatshirts typical of Californian start-ups and donned a clic blue tie suit… Despite political pressure and the many concerns raised by his products, he ped this test without too much difficulty.

A boss of a “tech” company in front of the representatives of the people… This moment recalls the multiple hearings, in recent years, of the leaders of Facebook, Google or Amazon. “We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past”, also noted Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic chairman of the commission, regretting that social networks and the Web were not regulated in their infancy. “We need to demystify AI and hold companies accountable”, he said, listing numerous risks posed by text and image-generating software: “Risk of bias and discriminatory algorithmic decisions”, “misinformation”, “lack of transparency”, “job losses”… He had illustrated his point by broadcasting an audio extract created with AI software and imitating his voice…

A posture of good will

But the tone and the atmosphere were rather less hostile than during past hearings of bosses of digital giants… The letter asking for a “pause” of advanced research in AI, signed by thousands of personalities − including the academic and entrepreneur Gary Marcus, who was auditioning at the same time, as well as the chief privacy and trust officer of the manufacturer IBM, Christina Montgomery − has thus been mentioned very little.

Republican Josh Hawley, quite offensive towards digital companies, also did not take up the reproaches of “partisan bias” formulated by Elon Musk, the boss of Twitter towards ChatGPT, accused, like social networks, of “censor” conservative voices. The senator even noted that Mr. Altman had grown up in his state, Missouri, before settling in Silicon Valley and founding the start-up incubator Y Combinator there, then OpenAI, in 2015.

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