The new interim CEO of OpenAI suggested earlier this year that artificial intelligence holds a level of potential risk for humankind that “should cause you to s**t your pants.”
In a June interview on “The Logan Bartlett Show” podcast, Shear said he feared that AI technology could evolve until it is smart enough to design artificial intelligence on its own, “fully self-improve itself” and outsmart humans.
“That kind of intelligence is just an intrinsically very dangerous thing,” he said. “Because intelligence is power. Human beings are the dominant form of life on this planet, pretty much entirely because we’re smarter than the other creatures now.”
He assessed the “probability of doom” as somewhere between 5 and 50%.
His interviewer, Bartlett, noted that most AI experts seem to place some percentage of risk on the technology. He cited Paul Christiano, an OpenAI researcher who has thrown around a variety of alarming figures about the probability of bad outcomes from AI in the long term.
“That should cause you to shit your pants,” Shear said.
In June, Shear shared a clip from the interview on X (formerly Twitter), saying the exchange “more or less captures my high level beliefs around AI and how dangerous it is.”
That clip was resurfaced and shared on Sunday after Shear was announced as OpenAI’s interim leader.
In a Sunday post on X, Shear said he accepted the role because he believes OpenAI to be one of the “most important companies currently in existence” and “ultimately I felt that I had a duty to help if I could.”
He shared a three-point plan to be executed over the next 30 days, including hiring an independent investigator to dig into Altman’s ouster and the “entire process leading up to this point.”
The findings, he said, would inform whether the company needed further governance changes.
The exact reason for Altman’s firing was not disclosed by the company, but the board said in its announcement that he was “not consistently candid in his communications with the board.”
In an internal memo obtained by The New York Times, board members said Altman’s “lack of transparency in his interactions with the board undermined the board’s ability to effectively supervise the company in the manner it was mandated to do.”
The news sent shockwaves through the tech industry over the weekend, and punctuates the ongoing debate over the multibillion-dollar AI boom and the potential perils the technology poses for the human race.