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AI ethics council co-chaired by OpenAI’s CEO has yet to launch

The council was meant to be a force for good.

Atlanta education and Civil Rights leaders would provide ethics advice about one of the potentially most disruptive technologies of our time, artificial intelligence. Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, would co-chair the council alongside Atlanta entrepreneur and nonprofit founder John Hope Bryant.

ExploreOpenAI launches ethics initiative. Atlanta leaders tapped to help

But six months after it was announced, the AI ethics council has yet to launch. In the meantime, AI — and its potential pitfalls — has only accelerated.

The AI ethics council was born out of meetings Altman had in spring 2023 at Clark Atlanta University that were facilitated by Bryant. The council was not meant to provide a legal framework around AI, but rather to provide some ethical guidelines for the burgeoning technology.

The presidents of Clark Atlanta, Spelman and Morehouse Colleges, along with former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young and King Center CEO Bernice King were some of the officials tapped to join the ethics council.

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Leaders from Big Tech companies would also be asked to be part of the group, Bryant said in December. But as of June, no tech leaders had joined.

“It’s been slow intentionally because it scared the hell out of me,” Bryant, CEO and founder of financial literacy nonprofit Operation HOPE, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Credit: Bita Honarvar

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Credit: Bita Honarvar

Bryant believes in the transformative power of AI to solve problems like cancer and Alzheimer’s, which makes him optimistic but also scares him. He said he wanted to be thoughtful with the council, which is why he has slowed the rollout.

OpenAI did not respond to questions about the council’s timeline.

Trust in AI

Most Americans aren’t convinced AI will benefit society. Only one in 10 think the technology does more good than harm, according to a 2023 Gallup survey, though Black Americans are more optimistic. More than two-thirds of Black adults said AI does either more good than harm or equal amounts of harm and good.

Altman and OpenAI are some of the most prominent figures in the industry because of the popularity of ChatGPT. In May, there were more than 637 million visits to the AI chatbot, which is down from the 1.8 billion visits in April, according to data from analytics firm Similarweb.

But OpenAI has faced recent controversies. Safety-minded employees have left the company because they don’t trust Altman, Vox reported in May.

OpenAI also faced public backlash when actress Scarlett Johansson accused the company of copying her voice for ChatGPT despite her refusing the company’s licensing request, which OpenAI denied.

The company did not respond to questions about if it had more urgency to launch the AI ethics council because of the recent controversies.

ExploreOpenAI’s Altman sidesteps questions about governance, Johansson at UN AI summit

Despite mistrust and missteps, AI has already had a major impact. This month, the chipmaker Nvidia briefly overtook Microsoft as the most valuable company on the S & P 500 because of its role in powering AI. But Bryant said Altman acknowledges the good and the bad of AI, which earned his trust.

As for the council, Bryant said it will start having expert briefings in the next month and a half and will unveil its first report at the HOPE Global Forum in December, Operation HOPE’s annual summit. He describes the forum as a “Black and brown Davos,” referring to the influential annual World Economic Forum held in Switzerland.

He also wants to get Microsoft, Google and leaders from other tech companies on the council, though he did not detail a timeline.

Bryant was straightforward when talking about why the council hasn’t launched yet.

“Don’t blame the timeline lag on the members, blame it on me,” he said.

“I believe they would have gone as fast as Sam and I asked, but Sam has been a little busy and I’ve been a little busy, and I also just thought there was no benefit in rushing this. It ain’t going nowhere.”

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Originally Appeared Here

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