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OpenAI CEO Sam Altman: ChatGPT ‘Will Make a Lot of Jobs Just Go Away’

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said ChatGPT “will make a lot of jobs just go away” in an interview with Lex Fridman on the latter’s eponymous podcast published Saturday.

Altman estimated that “customer service” would be a sector heavily impacted by the ongoing development and adoption of ChatGPT for businesses.

Partial transcript below

FRIDMAN: What kind of jobs do you think GPT language models would be better than humans at?

ALTMAN: like full like does the whole thing end-to-end and better, not like what it’s doing with you where it’s helping you be maybe ten times more productive.

FRIDMAN: Those are both good questions. I would say they’re equivalent to me, because if I’m ten times more productive, wouldn’t that mean that there would be a need for much fewer programmers in the world?

ALTMAN: I think the world is going to find out that if you can have ten times as much code at the same price, you can just use even more.

FRIDMAN: So write even more code

ALTMAN: Just way more code.

FRIDMAN: It is true that a lot more can be digitized? There could be a lot more code in a lot more stuff.

ALTMAN: I think there’s a supply issue. Yeah.

FRIDMAN: So in terms of really replacing jobs, is that a worry for you?

ALTMAN: It is. I’m trying to think of a big category that I believe can be massively impacted. I guess I would say customer service is a category that I could see there are just way fewer jobs relatively soon, and I’m not even certain about that, but I could believe it.

Altman added, “I want to be clear, I think like these systems will make a lot of jobs just go away — every technological revolution does.”

Fridman later asked Altman about being corrupted by power given his position as OpenAI’s CEO as ChatGPT grows in its capacities and ubiquity.

Partial transcript:

FRIDMAN: That might make you and a handful of folks the most powerful humans on Earth. Do you worry that power might corrupt you?

ALTMAN: For sure. Look, I think you want decisions about this technology — and certainly decisions about who is running this technology — to become increasingly democratic over time.

We haven’t figured out quite how to do this, but part of the reason for deploying [ChatGPT] like this is to get the world to have time to adapt, and to reflect, and to think about this, to pass regulation for our institutions, to come up with new norms for people working on it together.

Altman said he did not want absolute control over OpenAI and its products, including ChatGPT.

“I think any version of ‘one person is in control of this’ is really bad,” he stated. “I don’t have — and I don’t want any supervoting power. I don’t have control over the board or anything like that at OpenAI.”


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