OpenAI CEO Sam Altman tells US lawmakers ‘AI regulation is essential’

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the company responsible for creating Artificial Intelligence chatbot ChatGPT and image generator Dall-E 2, called for “regulation of AI” as he testified in his first appearance in front of the US Congress.

Altman used the session to urge Congress to impose new rules on big tech
Open AI CEO Sam Altman used the session to urge Congress to impose new rules on big tech. Photo courtesy: Twitterr/@Jay_DeLay

Speaking to the Senate judiciary committee, Altman said he supported regulatory guardrails for the technology that would enable the benefits of artificial intelligence while minimising the harms.

“We think that regulatory intervention by governments will be critical to mitigate the risks of increasingly powerful models,” Altman said in his prepared remarks.

During the hearing, several lawmakers stressed their deepest fears of AI's developments, with a leading senator opening the hearing on Capitol Hill with a computer-generated voice – which sounded remarkably similar to his own – reading a text written by the bot.

"If you were listening from home, you might have thought that voice was mine and the words from me, but in fact, that voice was not mine," said Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Artificial intelligence technologies "are more than just research experiments. They are no longer fantasies of science fiction, they are real and present," said Blumenthal, a Democrat.

Altman, while testifying, proposed establishing a set of safety standards and a specific test models would have to pass before AI bots can be deployed, as well as allowing independent auditors to examine the models before they are launched. He also argued existing frameworks like Section 230, which releases platforms from liability for the content its users post, would not be the right way to regulate the system.

"If this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong," Altman said.

Altman used the session to urge Congress to impose new rules on big tech, despite deep political divisions that for years have blocked legislation aimed at regulating the internet.

Governments worldwide are under pressure to move quickly after the release of ChatGPT and BingAI, bots that can churn out human-like content in an instant, went viral and both charmed and scared users.

Crucially for OpenAI, US lawmakers underlined that it also seeks to put generative AI systems such as ChatGPT and DALL-E in a category requiring special transparency measures, such as notifications to users that the output was made by a machine.