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OpenAI’s Altman Sees UAE as World’s AI Regulatory Testing Ground

(Bloomberg) -- OpenAI’s Sam Altman said the United Arab Emirates could serve as the world’s “regulatory sandbox” to test artificial intelligence technologies and later spearhead global rules limiting their use.

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“It’s very hard to get all the regulatory ideas right in a vacuum,” Altman told the UAE’s AI minister in a virtual appearance at the World Governments Summit. “And if there was a contained way that I could give people the future and let them experiment with it and then see what makes sense, what went wrong, what went right, that seems like an interesting experiment.”


The world will need a unified policy to rein in future advances in AI, said the OpenAI leader, whose ChatGPT thrust the technology into the mainstream. “I think, for a bunch of reasons, the UAE would be set up to be a leader in the discussions about that,” he said on Tuesday.

The comments came as Altman courts investors in the Middle East for a semiconductor initiative to advance AI. The United Arab Emirates has invested heavily in AI and made it a key policy consideration, but its ties to China have raised some concern in the United States.

On Monday, the chief executive officer of G42, an Emirati AI company controlled by UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, told Bloomberg the company would scale back its presence in China to appease Washington’s demands. G42 has partnerships with OpenAI, Microsoft Corp., and Cerebras Systems Inc.

In his remarks on Tuesday, Altman said OpenAI also plans to open-source some additional large-language models developed by his company, though it has yet to decide which ones. He also said the company would develop tools for poorer nations that can’t shoulder the massive costs of developing their own AI systems.

“We want to have an offering that makes sense for countries that want to offer AI services,” said Altman.

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