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  • Robert Farago

OpenAI Wants Your Job!

And it just may get it

“OpenAI’s careers page previously listed six core values for its employees,” reports. And they were…

Audacious, Thoughtful, Unpretentious, Impact-driven, Collaborative, and Growth-oriented.

As S.E. Hinton said, that was then, this is now.

The same page now lists five values, with “AGI focus” being the first. “Anything that doesn’t help with that is out of scope,” the website reads. The others are Intense and Scrappy, Scale, Make Something People Love, and Team spirit.

Before we analyze the tectonic shift in OpenAI’s corporate culture and what it means for the rest of us, it behooves us to define AGI.

For that we turn to Bard AI.

AGI stands for Artificial General Intelligence. It refers to the hypothetical ability of an AI system to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can. Unlike narrow AI, which is designed to perform a specific task, AGI is intended to be capable of performing any intellectual task that a human can, including tasks that it has not been specifically programmed to do.

CEO Sam Altman famously described AGI as “the equivalent of a median human that you could hire as a co-worker.”

In other words, Sam I am wants AI to be Sam I am, too.

Wait! Surely not Sam!

What are the odds the AI mogul sees himself as a “median human” or, for that matter, likes being called Shirley?

Dollars to donuts, Mr. Altman is referring to the “average” corporate drone. But hey, don’t take my word for it.

In a mission statement published in 2018, OpenAI described AGI as “highly autonomous systems that outperform humans at most economically valuable work.”

As someone who worked for large companies, I can attest to the fact that the average worker is more concerned about climbing the corporate ladder than performing “economically valuable” work.

You don’t have to read How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying to know that a hard-working employee is an anathema to any business rich enough to pay people to do sweet FA.

Gazing into our crystal ball, it’s clear AGI will perform the average employee’s mindless monkey work with its digital eyes closed. Even HR. Which brings us back to OpenAI’s “help wanted” ad.

OpenAI no longer feels the need to hire “Thoughtful” employees. Now that ChatGPT is a hit, it’s looking for “Intense and Scrappy” workers.

Intense is good. Scrappy is worrisome.

With whom does OpenAI want its new employees to “scrap”? Federal regulators? Elon Musk? Is there are an OpenAI fight club where workers beat each other to a pulp for AGI’s amusement?

Moving “Scale” up the scale of desirable traits raises another red flag. It signals Mr. Altman’s belief that the “AI Will Kill Us All” debate is over – in a damn the torpedos full speed ahead kinda way.

Open AI’s casting call’s also ditched “Unpretentious, Impact-driven and Collaborative” for “Make Something People Love” and “Team Spirit.”

Love is a many-splendored thing. Does Sam’s mob mean it literally? Is OpenAI entering the AI sex robot biz? Or do they simply want you to form an unbreakable emotional attachment to their software?

Meanwhile, there’s a subtle but important difference between Collaboration and Team Spirit. The former says “Kumbaya y’all.” The latter says, “get out your pom-poms and follow the leader.”

Taken as a whole, OpenAI’s revised employee requirements reflect Mr. Altman’s barely-disguised public pronouncement: we’re coming for your job.

No surprise there. AI is already replacing writers, photographers, models, coders, administrators, marketers, tattoo artists, influencers, psychotherapists and fast food workers. To name a few “median humans.”

Zooming out, history is the history of unintended consequences. AGI will “disrupt” our world in ways that we can’t anticipate. It will open new opportunities for work. Inadvertently? Count on it.

Or not. One thing is for sure: anyone who fits OpenAI’s employment criteria and ends up working for Mr. Altman will eventually be replaced. Just sayin’…

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