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OpenAI CEO dismisses concerns over potential European exit due to AI regulations

OpenAI CEO dismisses concerns over potential European exit due to AI regulations

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, batted down concerns that the company may leave the European Union if it can't adhere to the bloc's stringent new artificial intelligence regulations on Friday, after a top official reprimanded him for remarks raising such a possibility.

Altman is on a world tour that is taking him around Europe to meet with politicians and promote his AI startup, which has caused a worldwide craze.

He said that OpenAI may depart if the artificial intelligence regulations the EU is drafting are too strict during a visit this week in London. European Commissioner Thierry Breton responded sharply on social media, accusing the business of extortion.

Altman is quoted in the Financial Times as saying that OpenAI "will try to comply, but if we can't comply we will cease operating." Breton, who is in charge of digital policy, sent a link to the Financial Times piece.

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The next day, Altman attempted to diffuse the situation by tweeting: "Very constructive week of talks in Europe about how to effectively govern AI! We are delighted to go on doing business here and, of course, have no intentions of leaving.

The creation of artificial intelligence regulations is a major project being led by the European Union, whose AI Act is now nearing completion. EU officials were taken off guard by the quick growth of general-purpose AI chatbots like ChatGPT, and they hastily added clauses addressing so-called generative AI systems, which can create convincingly human-like conversational replies, essays, photos, and more in response to user requests.

Breton tweeted, "There is no use in trying to blackmail — claiming that Europe is holding down the adoption of generative #AI by establishing a defined framework. He continued by saying the EU aims to "assist companies in their preparation" for the AI Act.

The cities on Altman's European trip include Warsaw, Poland; Munich, Germany; Paris; Madrid; Lisbon, Portugal; and London, according to his tweets. The EU's administrative center in Brussels has not been mentioned.

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He has met with foreign leaders such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, has also been traveling around Europe this week to meet with officials like Scholz, European Commissioners like Breton, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, and two EU MPs who led the Parliament's work on the AI laws to discuss AI.

Good to discuss the need for proper legislation and transatlantic collaboration on AI, Pichai tweeted.

To compete with ChatGPT, Google has launched Bard, its own talking chatbot.

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The discussion on whether and how to regulate artificial intelligence has drawn in other heads of big companies this week. Microsoft President Brad Smith announced a plan for public governance of AI on Thursday.

Microsoft has spent tens of millions of dollars on OpenAI, and it has included technology like ChatGPT into its businesses, including a chatbot for its Bing search engine.

This month, Altman testified before Congress that a U.S. or international organization should oversee AI regulation because increasingly potent systems would require government engagement to mitigate their hazards.

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When Altman participated in a "fireside chat" on Wednesday at University College London, students surrounded him. The "right answer" to regulating AI, he told the audience, is "probably something between the traditional European, U.K. approach and the traditional U.S. approach."

Before you know what form the technology will take, I don't think you should overregulate this, Altman added.

He said that AI regulation has been a "recurring topic" on his globe tour, which has also included stops in Toronto, Rio de Janeiro, and Lagos, Nigeria. There is still opportunity to develop "some sort of global set of norms and enforcement," he said.

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