"It's a strangely isolating way to live."

The Fame Monster

After spending years relentlessly chasing publicity across the media, huge speaking events and a world tour of multiple continents, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is humblebragging that all his newfound fame is taking a toll.

"The inability to just be mostly anonymous in public is very, very strange," he said on the Logan Bartlett Show this week. "I think if I had thought about that at the time, I would've said, 'OK, this will be a weirder thing than it sounds like,' but I didn't really think about it. It's like a much weirder thing. It's a strangely isolating way to live."

"I was like, 'AI's going to be really important, OpenAI's going to be a really important company,'" he added. "I didn't think I would not be able to go out to dinner in my own city."

Because yes, Sam, the one thing that'll cool off all this Altman Fever is definitely an appearance on a hit podcast that immediately racked up a third of a million views.

Household Name

Many tech leaders retain moderate anonymity in spite of their corporate influence — try to name the head of Anthropic or Samsung or Netflix without looking it up.

But Altman is one the most idiosyncratic figures in tech even by the eccentric standards of the nascent AI industry, nevermind one who can seemingly never resist the urge to sound off in public.

During his stint at Y Combinator, for instance, he once bragged that he had a cache of guns and gas masks at a remote compound — due to, among other things, a fear of rogue AI.

Now that he's the guy actively creating that potentially dangerous AI — as the folks at OpenAI responsible for heading off those hazards are steadily pushed out, it's worth mentioning — Altman has kept sounding off with a steady stream of attention-grabbing soundbites.

Remember when he fretted out loud that AI could go "horribly wrong" for society? Or when he was looking to raise $7 trillion — with a "t"! — for an AI hardware venture? Or when he compared OpenAI's emotive new chatbot with the titular character of Spike Jonze's 2013 romantic tragedy "Her"? Or when he... okay, you get the idea.

It's one thing to relentlessly pursue fame. But it's another entirely to pretend you never wanted it.

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