On a post to OpenAI’s blog on 22 May 2023, leadership proposed establishing an international regulatory body to govern the development and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI). Authored by OpenAI founder Sam Altman, President Greg Brockman, and Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, a parallel is drawn between artificial intelligence and nuclear power: both of which necessitate a regulatory framework. They argue that the rapid pace of research demands a dedicated international authority to ensure AI’s responsible integration with society.
While acknowledging the accomplishments of OpenAI’s widely popular ChatGPT, the post urges for external coordination and oversight. When the goal is to develop “superintelligence”, the industry needs an authority that resembles the International Atomic Energy Agency. The post reads, “we are likely to eventually need something like an IAEA for superintelligence efforts; any effort above a certain capability (or resources like compute) threshold will need to be subject to an international authority that can inspect systems, require audits, test for compliance with safety standards, place restrictions [...]”.
OpenAI suggests that objective metrics like tracking energy usage dedicated to AI research should be reported and monitored. This approach ensures transparency and accountability in resource allocation. The company also acknowledges the importance of balancing regulation with innovation, suggesting that smaller companies could be exempt from certain requirements to avoid stifling emerging ideas.
In an interview with The Guardian, leading AI researcher and critic, Timnit Gebru stated, “Unless there is external pressure to do something different, companies are not just going to self-regulate. We need regulation and we need something better than just a profit motive”. OpenAI's position signals a commitment to meaningful action beyond mere rhetoric. The proposal initiates a conversation within the industry, and acknowledges the serious implications of artificial intelligence, comparable to nuclear power, on society and the environment.