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Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, gives fellowship lecture at Cambridge Union

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, have won the 2023 Professor Hawking Fellowship


Crowds gathered at the Cambridge Union to watch Sam Altman deliver the 2023 Professor Hawking Fellowship lecture. The event was open only to members of the Cambridge Union. A student told The Cambridge Tab that he was advised to start queuing two hours before the event to prevent disappointment. This is the second day in a row the Cambridge Union has been at capacity.

Sam Altman was honoured to accept the 2023 Professor Hawking Fellowship on behalf of the OpenAI team. He mentioned he was humbled to be at the Cambridge Union as Steven Hawking and his early comments on artificial intelligence had been a huge inspiration to him. Throughout his talk, he often quoted Steven Hawking’s 2017 keynote speech from the Web Summit during which Steven Hawking spoke about how AI can be used for the good of humanity, but also has risks associated with it.

Sam Altman also shared an interesting observation from CEOs of large tech companies who have allegedly noticed younger workers out-performing more experienced workers, as the greater familiarity with artificial intelligence makes up for their lack of experience. He believes, AI will lead to us returning to a world where young people drive innovation.

In response to a question about how universities should adapt their curriculum to react to the advances in AI, Sam Altman emphasised how the core values of education (i.e., the metaskill of learning new things, and personal innovation) will remain unchanged.

Although Sam Altman believes we cannot miss out on the benefits of AI, he did not shy away from discussing the potential dangers of AI. He highlighted the need for a global regulation network, whilst also commenting that he admired British society for being reasonable and thought that the government’s work in the field was a positive development.

With Ben Shapiro, Sam Altman, Nathan Law and Stella Assange all speaking at the union this week, non-Union members are starting to get a bit jealous.

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