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OpenAI CEO and ChatGPT Founder Sam Altman Talks Artificial Intelligence at Howard University

Altman provided his thoughts on diversity, inclusion, and marginalized communities inside the recent technological boom

Sam Alton visits Howard University and he is speaking with Ben Vinson and William Sutherland

In the Blackburn Ballroom, Sam Altman, co-founder and CEO of OpenAI joined Howard University President Ben Vinson III, Ph.D., and William Sutherland, Ph.D., director of the University’s Center for Computational Biology & Bioinformatics in a fireside chat about artificial intelligence and its impact on humanity.   

The widespread immersion of artificial intelligence leaves many students, faculty, and community members with questions about the future of humanity. Artificial intelligence continues to rapidly indoctrinate itself in all sectors of society, leading to concerns about what humanity might lose in the process. 

“Human adaptability is remarkable,” said Altman. “I’m very happy that people no longer think it’s weird that we can talk to a computer the way we talk to a human.” 

AI’s appeal has increased in recent years, as human creation has caused ethical concerns. Many generative AI companies face copyright concerns and intellectual property infringement allegations.  

Once questions were opened to the gallery, Howard’s community engaged with Altman about intellectual property concerns and larger issues of privacy. 

“We think it’s a very important principle of intellectual property that we shouldn’t regurgitate content to the greatest of its ability," said Altman. “It’s hard to be perfect at this.” 

Sam Altman speaks with Howard University

The Howard University community listens as Sam Altman's answers questions about the future of artificial intelligence and how HBCUs and Black graduates can affect change within AI's work industries. (Source: Justin Knight)

It’s going to take the partnership and integration of all of society in making sure that this is done in an ethical way.” 

Altman continually acknowledged the current pitfalls of artificial intelligence but predicts that the industry will see meaningful change in the future. This time around, artificial intelligence is making space for marginalized communities, with the goal of creating a product made with worldwide input. Altman’s time at Howard continued his message with the opportunity for the Black community to get involved on the ground floor. 

“It’s going to take the partnership and integration of all of society in making sure that this is done in an ethical way. We’re very excited that the technology allows this, and that we get to face the harder societal challenges,” said Altman. 

Howard University's Director of User Experiences & Web Strategy Kweli Zukeri, interviews Sam Altman about artificial intelligence for the University podcast, HU2U. (Source: Justin Knight) Howard University's Director of User Experiences & Web Strategy Kweli Zukeri, interviews Sam Altman about artificial intelligence for the University podcast, HU2U. (Source: Justin Knight)

Prior to Altman’s conversation with Vinson and Sutherland, he sat down for an interview with Kweli Zukeri and Howard University’s podcast HU2U. Altman addressed the same concerns around inclusivity, adding, “The tech industry has not done of good job of diversity and inclusion with recent tech booms but I’m optimistic that this one can be different. It looks like it’s going to be.”  

With the cultural shift of a modern technology boom comes a change in the way the world operates. For upcoming and recent graduates, AI’s revolution comes at a crucial time in their careers, allowing them to take advantage of the chaos to create something new.  

“Young people are going to invent the future here,” Altman said. “The familiarity with the tools, the ability to imagine what the future can be like, and the gift of starting out in a time of great change creates a very good opportunity for new graduates in a very long time.”