Sam Altman doesn’t want to take OpenAI public now because he may have to make ‘a very strange decision’ that investors will dislike

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Sam Altman wants to maintain control of OpenAI and its popular A.I. chatbot technology and therefore won’t take the company public anytime soon because it would limit his freedom to make decisions, Bloomberg reported.

“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. 

Altman explained that he doesn’t have equity in privately owned OpenAI because he wants to be “non-conflicted.” The Abu Dhabi event is the latest stop on Altman’s world tour across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East to discuss reducing A.I.’s potential harm to society and regulating the technology. 

The comments come three weeks after Altman spoke to the Senate’s A.I. oversight subcommittee about the dangers of A.I., during which he said government intervention will be critical in the near future. He suggested that the U.S. create licensing and testing requirements for the development of new A.I. models, and that OpenAI partner with the government on creating safety frameworks. 

On Tuesday, a group of bipartisan lawmakers planned three summer hearings focused on the dangers of A.I.

In terms of decision-making, Altman said he wants full autonomy from OpenAI shareholders, saying in Abu Dhabi that “the chance that we have to make a very strange decision someday is nontrivial.” Altman didn’t clarify what a “very strange decision” could look like, but added, “I don’t want to be sued by…public market, Wall Street, etc.”

OpenAI began as a nonprofit, but now operates as a “capped-profit” company. The capped-profit business model lets OpenAI raise external funds with the commitment that the original nonprofit will still benefit.

 OpenAI is valued at nearly $30 billion, backed by $10 billion from Microsoft.

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