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ChatGPT creator Sam Altman tells San Francisco crowd he can’t be trusted

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, left, and Host and Executive Director of Bloomberg Originals Emily Chang, right, talk at the Bloomberg Technology Summit at the SVN West event center in San Francisco on Thursday. | Liz Lindqwister/The Standard

ChatGPT creator Sam Altman made an appearance at the Bloomberg Technology Summit in San Francisco Thursday morning, chatting about the existential threats and benefits of artificial intelligence. 

The OpenAI CEO spoke to a packed audience on Thursday at the SVN West event center, moderated by Bloomberg Originals host Emily Chang. Altman spoke for just 15 minutes before leaving to catch a flight to Washington, D.C. 

“You have an incredible amount of power at this moment,” Chang said. “Why should we trust you?”

“You shouldn’t,” Altman said. “I think at this moment in time, people should basically spend as much time asking as many questions as they would like. [...] No one person should be trusted here.”  

Audience members listen to OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaking with Bloomberg host Emily Chang at the Bloomberg Technology Summit at the SVN West event center in San Francisco on Thursday. | Liz Lindqwister/The Standard

Altman amended his statement to say users should trust OpenAI, but only if the organization continues to fight for regulatory measures and ensures the technology is “governed by humanity.” 

ChatGPT and generative artificial intelligence have exploded onto the San Francisco tech scene in recent months, after OpenAI released publicly accessible text and image generators in 2022. The industry excitement surrounding these technologies has lured investors and startup founders back to the Bay Area, creating what some call an AI gold rush.

“The concept of having enough money is a concept that’s not easy to get across to people,” Altman said, to laughter from the audience, when asked why he takes no equity for his work at OpenAi. “I’m going to make way more from other investments I made in the past.”

READ MORE: San Francisco’s Next Gold Rush Is Already Here, and You’ve Been Using it for Years

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, left; host and Executive Director of Bloomberg Originals Emily Chang, center; and Senior Executive Editor of Global Technology Bloomberg Brad Stone, right, stand onstage at Bloomberg Technology Summit. | Liz Lindqwister/The Standard

Altman spoke optimistically about the future of generative technology but highlighted the necessity of global regulation on AI. The CEO stopped short of calling for a pause on AI development. 

“The upsides [to AI technologies] are huge,” Altman said. “For example, if there is a technology that could stop poverty but had a downside, would you stop it?”

Altman was one of many tech execs who signed onto a 22-word statement in May, warning against a “risk of extinction” caused by AI. Altman has in recent weeks lobbied Congress and the White House to address global restrictions on artificial intelligence. The CEO met with President Joe Biden and other top government officials on Tuesday to debate what the President called the "risks and enormous promises" of this new technology.  

The Bloomberg Technology Summit is a one-day conference bringing together major names in the tech industry. Panels include top execs and public figures such as Altman, Mayor London Breed, actress Halle Berry, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and top venture capitalists like Reid Hoffman. The event was largely attended by tech industry insiders, with tickets costing upward of $2,000 each.