Former OpenAI Exec Predicts AI Could Be Last Thing Humans Ever Invent

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He admits multiple times how naive this sounds, too.

Preacher Man

One of OpenAI’s earliest acolytes seems to think artificial intelligence is a gift from on high — and it sounds, depending on your point of view, either optimistic or disturbing.

In an interview with Business Insider, former OpenAI executive Zack Kass went off about all the ways he thinks AI will save the world. He’s such a believer in that idea that he left OpenAI to “support the AI revolution” last fall, becoming something of a self-appointed PR agent for the algorithms.

“Where I landed was being the voice of the counter-narrative — that AI isn’t doom and gloom, that the future isn’t dystopian and post-apocalyptic, but that it is bright and full of more joy and less suffering,” Kass said. “So now basically my purpose and mission is to promote a really exciting bright future.”

As the first employee of OpenAI’s Go-to-Market division, and later as its leader before leaving, Kass admitted that in the short-term, the technology he’s been instrumental in building will generate a “whole lot of first-world implications that are really uncomfortable for people, but actually net good.”

Of those implications, the self-described “AI futurist” believes that people in developed countries will “end up working a lot less.” And in poorer countries, he thinks that “every child [will have] an AI-powered teacher,” though if the AI has already cut into the developed-world jobs, it’s not entirely clear what they might do with those advanced educations.

Game Changer

Kass said that there’s a consensus among AI industry movers and shakers that regardless of whether their outlook is positive or negative, “they all recognize the incredible potential of this technology.”

“I have not met an industry insider who I respected who didn’t acknowledge the fact that this could be the last technology humans ever invent,” he mused, “and that, from here on out, AI just propels us at an exceptional rate and we live more and more fulfilling, joyful lives with less suffering and you know, we explore other worlds and galaxies, etc.”

Kass at multiple points acknowledges that he could come off as naive, and admitted that a “lot of industry insiders take a much more dubious view of the downside” of AI than he does.

“I think there are people who will tell you that the risk is so great that even the upside isn’t worth it,” he said. “I just definitely don’t agree with that. I just don’t see any evidence to suggest that AI will want to kill us all.”

That’s fair enough — though at this point, there also doesn’t seem to be much evidence that there will be AI teachers for every child in the developing world, either.

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