Sam Altman is reportedly seeking additional financial backing from top investor Microsoft as the OpenAI chief looks to build “superintelligent” tech tools that would be as smart as humans.
Altman already secured a $10 billion “multiyear” agreement between Microsoft and the ChatGPT maker earlier this year, expanding upon a partnership that began in 2019 with just $1 billion from the Big Tech firm.
However, the 38-year-old AI whiz wants even more funds to sharpen OpenAI’s commercialization of new AI breakthroughs as competition heats up with Google, which is in talks to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Character.AI, according to Reuters — an AI bot startup developed by two former Google employees.
“The vision is to make artificial general intelligence (AGI), figure out how to make it safe and figure out the benefits,” Altman told the Financial Times, noting that he’s also spending time researching “how to build superintelligence” and ways to build up computing power to do so.
Companies like IBM describe AGI as having “an intelligence equal to humans” that “would have a self-aware consciousness that has the ability to solve problems, learn, and plan for the future.”
IBM added that AGI “only exists today as a theoretical concept versus a tangible reality.”
Altman sees AGI as the next phase of evolution for his booming company.
“Right now, people [say] ‘you have this research lab, you have this API [software], you have the partnership with Microsoft, you have this ChatGPT thing, now there is a GPT store.’ But those aren’t really our products,” Altman told the outlet.
“Those are channels into our one single product, which is intelligence, magic intelligence in the sky. I think that’s what we’re about.”
Asked if Microsoft would keep investing further in these ventures, Altman told FT: “I’d hope so.”
The recent $10 billion OpenAI-Microsoft partnership valued Altman’s AI company at some $29 billion, sources told FT, and Altman noted that everything with the deal was “working really well.”
“Revenue growth has been good this year,” Altman said in an interview with the outlet, though he’s hungry for more.
“There’s a long way to go, and a lot of compute to build out between here and AGI . . . training expenses are just huge,” he added.
Altman remained coy on just how much more money he was hoping Microsoft would dish out, or how much the company is currently spending on training.
OpenAI is reportedly on track to rack up $1 billion in sales over the next 12 months, thanks to its cash cow ChatGPT, which launched a $20-a-month subscription service earlier this year.
OpenAI’s financials, however, are private, and Altman has made it clear that he has no plans to take it public anytime soon — perhaps because he doesn’t need to raise any additional capital and doesn’t want to hand over any control of the powerful tech company.
“When we develop superintelligence, we’re likely to make some decisions that public market investors would view very strangely,” Altman said at an event in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, according to Bloomberg.
“I like being non-conflicted, and I think the chance that we have to make a very strange decision someday is non-trivial,” he added when asked about his decision to take no equity in OpenAI.
Representatives for OpenAI did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
Just last week OpenAI debuted GPT Builder, which allows users to create custom chatbots called GPTs.
Pointing to the launch of GPTs, Altman told FT that OpenAI was working to build more autonomous tools that can perform increasingly advanced tasks and actions, such as executing code, making payments, sending emails or filing claims.
“We will make these agents more and more powerful…and the actions will get more and more complex from here,” he told the outlet. “The amount of business value that will come from being able to do that in every category, I think, is pretty good.”
OpenAI is also reportedly working on GPT-5, the next generation of its ChatGPT “large language model,” Altman said, though he did not divulge a timeline for its release.
Social media rumblings suggest that GPT-5 could be rolled out as early as December 2023, though it’s tricky to know what to expect, even for Altman.
The AI boss said it was hard to predict exactly what new capabilities and skills the model might have, according to FT.
“Until we go train that model, it’s like a fun guessing game for us,” he said. “We’re trying to get better at it, because I think it’s important from a safety perspective to predict the capabilities. But I can’t tell you here’s exactly what it’s going to do that GPT-4 didn’t.”
Meanwhile, Google also has its sights set on an advanced chatbot model, Character.AI, which allows users to chat with virtual versions of celebrities like Billie Eilish or anime characters, while creating their own chatbots and AI assistants.
It is free to use, but offers subscription model that charges $9.99 a month for users who want to skip the virtual line to access a chatbot, according to Reuters.
Google seems intrigued by the concept, and is in talks with Character.AI founders and ex-Google staffers Noam Shazeer and Daniel De Freitas to structure the hefty investment as convertible notes, a source told Reuters.
The partnership would deepen the existing partnership Character.AI already has with Google, per the outlet, in which it uses Google’s cloud services and Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) to train models.
The Post has sought comment from Google and Character.AI.