By Supantha Mukherjee and Martin Coulter
(Reuters) – OpenAI has no plans to leave Europe, CEO Sam Altman said on Friday, reversing a threat made earlier this week to leave the region if it becomes too hard to comply with upcoming laws on artificial intelligence.
The EU is working on what could be the first set of rules globally to govern AI and Altman on Wednesday said the current draft of the EU AI Act was “over-regulating”.
“We are excited to continue to operate here and of course have no plans to leave,” Altman said in a tweet on Friday.
His threat of quitting Europe had drawn criticism from EU industry chief Thierry Breton and a host of other lawmakers.
Altman has spent the past week crisscrossing Europe, meeting top politicians in France, Spain, Poland, Germany and the Britain to discuss the future of AI, and progress of ChatGPT.
He called his tour a “very productive week of conversations in Europe about how to best regulate AI!”
OpenAI had faced criticism for not disclosing training data for its latest AI model GPT-4. The company had cited a “competitive landscape and safety implications” for not disclosing the details.
While debating the AI Act draft, EU lawmakers added new proposals that would force any company using generative tools, like ChatGPT, to disclose copyrighted material used to train its systems.
“These provisions relate mainly to transparency, which ensures the AI and the company building it are trustworthy,” Dragos Tudorache, a Romanian member of the European Parliament who is leading the drafting of EU proposals, told Reuters on Thursday.
“I don’t see a reason why any company would shy away from transparency.”
CLASH WITH REGULATORS
EU parliamentarians agreed on the draft of the act earlier this month. Member states, the European Commission and Parliament will thrash out the final details of the bill later this year.
AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT, backed by Microsoft, has created new possibilities around AI and fears around its potential have provoked excitement and alarm – and brought it into conflict with regulators.
Reacting to Altman’s tweet on Friday, Dutch MEP Kim van Sparrentak, who has worked closely on the AI draft rules, told Reuters she and her colleagues must stand up to pressure from tech companies.
“I hope we continue standing firm, and we will ensure these companies have to follow clear obligations on transparency, security and environmental standards,” she said.
“Voluntary codes of conduct are not the European way.”
OpenAI first clashed with regulators in March, when Italian data regulator Garante shut the app down domestically, accusing OpenAI of flouting European privacy rules. ChatGPT came back online after the company instituted new privacy measures for users.
German MEP Sergey Lagodinsky, who has also worked on the draft AI Act, told Reuters: “I’m happy to hear we don’t have to talk the language of threats and ultimatums.”
“We all have common challenges, but the European Parliament is an ally for AI, not an enemy.”
OpenAI on Thursday said it will award 10 equal grants from a fund of $1 million for experiments to determine how AI software should be governed and Altman called those grants “how to democratically decide on the behavior of AI systems”.
(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm, Martin Coulter in London and Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; Additional reporting by Akanksha Khushi in Bengalaru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)