"This time it’s different."

Term Limit

Sam Altman is taking a victory lap after being unsuccessfully ousted as CEO of OpenAI — and after his triumphant return, he's already back to saying weird stuff in public again.

As Bloomberg reports, Altman is again on the speech circuit and was quoted waxing prolific about the many ways he thinks artificial intelligence will "lift the world up."

Weirdly, the now-famous CEO also said that he's fascinated with rogue AI in science fiction like the killer robots depicted in the "Terminator" franchise, during his first public appearance since the so-called "Turkey-Shoot Clusterfuck" just before Thanksgiving that saw OpenAI's board try and fail to stage a coup.

"All those thoughts about the ways that this could go wrong, you don’t need much imagination because we grew up with that in the media," Altman said during a global forum hosted by the rights group Operation HOPE in Atlanta earlier this week. "That’s why we work so hard on safety. But we also believe you cannot build this safely in a vacuum."

Safety Dance

AI safety was, as some (but not all) suggest, the impetus for Altman's ouster in the first place.

While public statements have only indicated that three since-resigned OpenAI board members accused him of dishonesty, insider reports paint a broader picture of tensions between the CEO's push to create smarter and smarter AI and a smaller internal faction who believe the tech they're helping build needs to be rolled out much more slowly, to ensure it doesn't do bad things such as, for example, turning against humakind.

Given the context, it's not a huge surprise that Altman is using this first post-coup appearance to address the elephant in the room that nearly saw him shunned from the company he helped build — though naturally, neither he nor anyone else involved has directly stated whether it was safety or anything else that led specifically to his initial firing on November 17.

As before, the CEO also can't seem to make up his mind about whether he's terrified of AI or thirsty for it. During the 35-minute Atlanta speech, he declared that OpenAI has "jumped into this tornado that has not stopped" but also insisted that he and his firm are the adults in the room who will make sure our future algorithmic overlords don't kill us all immediately.

"This time it’s different," Altman said. "And it’s a little scary, to be sure."

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