Axios Pro Exclusive Content

OpenAI's Altman to testify at Senate hearing next week

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on Feb. 7, 2023. Photo: Jason Redmond / AFP

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman will testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee panel May 16, marking his first public appearance on Capitol Hill.

Why it matters: As lawmakers try to wrap their heads around the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence and the tech industry races to compete, input from the CEO of a leading, wave-making company will be key.

  • OpenAI's ChatGPT is one of the more popular chatbots that sparked the craze over generative AI earlier this year. A plethora of questions and concerns about using large language models for text, pictures and audio have since emerged.
  • Lawmakers have already proposed new laws and agencies to govern the burgeoning field, but there's no coalescing around any ideas yet.
  • The Biden administration, meanwhile, has put forth some broad, voluntary guidelines and hosted CEOs of leading companies working on AI last week.

Driving the news: NYU professor Gary Marcus and IBM vice president and chief privacy and trust officer Christina Montgomery will also testify.

  • Companies that are not using AI for consumer-facing products, such as IBM, are stressing they should not be regulated in the same manner and lawmakers should take a risk-based approach.

What they're saying: "Artificial intelligence urgently needs rules and safeguards to address its immense promise and pitfalls," privacy, technology and the law subcommittee chair Richard Blumenthal said in a press release.

  • Ranking member Josh Hawley: “Artificial intelligence will be transformative in ways we can’t even imagine, with implications for Americans’ elections, jobs, and security.”

Be smart: It's sure to be the first of many high-profile hearings on AI this Congress as lawmakers aim to show they're keeping up. But agreement on regulations will be hard to come by.

Go deeper