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OpenAI CEO Sam Altman wants to build AI “superintelligence”

OpenAI plans to secure further financial backing from its biggest investor Microsoft as the ChatGPT maker’s chief executive Sam Altman pushes ahead with his vision to create artificial general intelligence —computer software as intelligent as humans.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Altman said his company’s partnership with Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella was “working really well” and that he expected “to raise a lot more over time” from the tech giant among other investors, to keep up with the punishing costs of building more sophisticated AI models.

Microsoft earlier this year invested $10 billion in OpenAI as part of a “multiyear” agreement that valued the San Francisco-based company at $29 billion, according to people familiar with the talks.

Asked if Microsoft would keep investing further, Altman said: “I’d hope so.” He added: “There’s a long way to go, and a lot of compute to build out between here and AGI . . . training expenses are just huge.”

Altman said “revenue growth had been good this year,” without providing financial details, and that the company remained unprofitable due to training costs. But he said the Microsoft partnership would ensure “that we both make money on each other’s success, and everybody is happy.”

In the latest sign of how OpenAI intends to build a business model on top of ChatGPT, the company announced a suite of new tools, and upgrades to its existing model GPT-4 for developers and companies at an event on November 6 attended by Nadella.

The tools include custom versions of ChatGPT that can be adapted and tailored for specific applications, and a GPT Store, or a marketplace of the best apps. The eventual aim will be to split revenues with the most popular GPT creators, in a business model similar to Apple’s App Store.

“Right now, people [say] ‘you have this research lab, you have this API [software], you have the partnership with Microsoft, you have this ChatGPT thing, now there is a GPT store’. But those aren’t really our products,” Altman said. “Those are channels into our one single product, which is intelligence, magic intelligence in the sky. I think that’s what we’re about.”

To build out the enterprise business, Altman said he hired executives such as Brad Lightcap, who previously worked at Dropbox and start-up accelerator Y Combinator, as his chief operating officer.

Altman, meanwhile, splits his time between two areas: research into “how to build superintelligence” and ways to build up computing power to do so. “The vision is to make AGI, figure out how to make it safe… and figure out the benefits.”

Pointing to the launch of GPTs, he said OpenAI was working to build more autonomous agents that can perform tasks and actions, such as executing code, making payments, sending emails or filing claims.

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