Bernie Sanders he is not.

Marx's Revenge

In what's perhaps an attempt to head off bad press — or, at very least, convince people he's not the bad guy — OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has given Forbes an interview in which he claims that his for-profit company is ultimately going to bring about capitalism's downfall.

First, some context. Altman, who is also the president of the uber-influential Y Combinator startup incubator, is one of only OG OpenAI cofounders still standing. The company's decision to go from more of a research vehicle to a for-profit venture in 2019 was somewhat overshadowed by his fellow cofounder Elon Musk's decision to leave the firm — over some seemingly huge disagreements about its direction.

The CEO behind the record-breaking ChatGPT has a bit of a strange background, the TL;DR of which being that he once admitted to being a doomsday prepper who believes that killer artificial intelligence or a lab-modified virus could bring about the end of days.

Much of the OpenAI CEO's rhetoric in his recent Forbes exclusive hinges on the future — the future of the company, of course, but also on the future of AI in general, and how Altman believes it will dovetail with sentient AIs, otherwise known as artificial general intelligence (AGI).

Anxious General Intelligence

While Altman doesn't think we're that close to AIs gaining consciousness — a belief that's not quite shared by fellow OG OpenAI-er Ilya Sutskever — he did tell Forbes that creating AGI is "the thrust that drives all my actions" and, it seems, his raison d'etre for the firm.

In one exchange, Forbes' Alex Konrad noted the inherent tension regarding capitalism that's found between OpenAI's "research-driven" foundation and the buckets of money investors have put into it. Altman had a provocative response.

"I think capitalism is awesome. I love capitalism," he told Forbes. "Of all of the bad systems the world has, it's the best one — or the least bad one we found so far. I hope we find a way better one."

"I think that if AGI really truly fully happens," he continued, "I can imagine all these ways that it breaks capitalism."

If you're confused by this response, you're not alone. But then again, OpenAI itself was founded to head off the worst outcomes of AGI and is now apparently gunning to make it a reality — so confusion is, it seems, the most rational response to that revelation.

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