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From Modi's Office to IIIT Delhi, How ChatGPT Boss Sam Altman's India Visit Went

Sam Altman has been globetrotting, trying to shape the conversation around AI.

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Sam Altman, the creator of ChatGPT, spent the last couple of days pitching the artificial intelligence tool to India.

Tell me more: Between a one-on-one session with PM Modi and interacting with students of Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Delhi on Thursday, 8 June, it's fair to say that the OpenAI CEO had a packed schedule.

  • Altman was also interviewed by Times Internet vice chairman Satyan Gajwani, in an event organised by Economic Times on Wednesday, 7 June.

Why it matters: The 38-year-old tech leader's visit comes amid India contemplating AI regulation, specifically through its proposed Digital India Bill that has been in the works since last year.

Another possible consequence of Altman's visit could be the use of ChatGPT as a tool to aid the government's administrative tasks. As per multiple news reports, the Indian government has been mulling the use of conversational AI tools to help Indian farmers learn about various government schemes, manage the grievances of disgruntled consumers, and carry out other citizen-centric tasks.
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Meeting Modi: “He [Modi] was so enthusiastic, really thoughtful about AI, and the benefits of it. We asked why India has embraced ChatGPT so much and so early. It’s really been fun for us to watch. He had great answers about that,” Altman reportedly said, when asked about his sit-down with the prime minister.

  • “We talked about the opportunities in front of the country, what the country should do, also the need to think about global regulation to make sure we prevent some of the downsides from happening – but it was a great hour,” he added.

Viewpoint: Altman has proposed that AI be regulated by an international body, similar to how global efforts had led to the establishment of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"We are likely to eventually need something like an [International Atomic Energy Agency] for superintelligence efforts; any effort above a certain capability (or resources like compute) threshold will need to be subject to an international authority that can inspect systems, require audits, test for compliance with safety standards, place restrictions on degrees of deployment and levels of security, etc."
OpenAI founder Sam Altman in a blog post.

Flip side: “Sam Altman is obviously a smart man. He has his own ideas about how AI should be regulated. We certainly think we have some smart brains in India as well, and we have our own views on how AI should have guardrails,” Minister of State for Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar had said.

  • “If there is eventually a United Nations of AI – as Sam Altman wants – more power to it. But that does not stop us from doing what is right for our digital citizens and keeping the internet safe and trusted,” the minister had added.

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The big picture: Sam Altman has been globetrotting in an attempt to shape the conversation around AI regulation. His travel bucket list has spanned 16 cities across five continents, including Toronto, Washington DC, Rio de Janeiro, Lagos, Madrid, Brussels, Munich, London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Dubai, New Delhi, Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul, and Tokyo.

  • He had met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to discuss setting up OpenAI offices in the country.

  • His next stop is Seoul in South Korea, where a meeting with President Yoon Suk Yeol is reportedly on the cards.

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