OpenAI CEO signals potential exit from EU over regulatory concerns

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during a keynote address announcing ChatGPT integration for Bing at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, on February 7, 2023. — AFP

OpenAI, the company behind the widely known ChatGPT, may consider leaving the European Union (EU) if it fails to comply with the upcoming AI regulations proposed by the EU. Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, expressed this possibility during an event in London. The EU is currently developing what could become the world’s first comprehensive set of rules governing artificial intelligence. According to the draft regulations, companies utilizing generative AI tools like ChatGPT will be required to disclose any copyrighted material used in the development of their systems.

Altman acknowledged that the current version of the EU AI Act may be overly regulatory. However, he expressed optimism that the regulations would be revised and scaled back based on feedback from industry experts. OpenAI intends to make a genuine effort to comply with the regulations once they are finalized. Altman highlighted the need for changes to the definition of general-purpose AI systems, which encompass AI models like ChatGPT that have diverse applications and are supported by tech giants like Microsoft.

Earlier this month, the draft AI Act achieved consensus among EU parliamentarians. The next step involves deliberations between the representatives of the Parliament, the Council, and the Commission to iron out the final details of the bill. Altman emphasized that there is still room for improvement and suggested various modifications that could be made to the legislation to strike a better balance.

If OpenAI were to exit the EU due to regulatory constraints, it would have significant implications for the AI landscape within the region. OpenAI’s advanced AI technologies have gained widespread recognition, and their potential departure could impact AI research, development, and accessibility in Europe. While the company hopes to find common ground with the EU, its willingness to consider other options underscores the challenges posed by the evolving regulatory landscape.

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