Sam Altman sells superintelligent sunshine as protestors call for AGI pause

A photograph of Azhar and Altman sitting on stairs on stage under a large spot light.
Author Azeem Azhar talks to Sam Altman onstage at UCL. | Image: The Verge

The queue to see OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speak at University College London on Wednesday stretched hundreds deep into the street. Those waiting gossiped in the sunshine about the company and their experience using ChatGPT, while a handful of protesters delivered a stark warning in front of the entrance doors: OpenAI and companies like it need to stop developing advanced AI systems before they have the chance to harm humanity.

“Look, maybe he’s selling a grift. I sure as hell hope he is,” one of the protestors, Gideon Futerman, a student at Oxford University studying solar geoengineering and existential risk, said of Altman. “But in that case, he’s hyping up systems with enough known harms. We probably should be putting a stop to them…

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