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  • Robert Farago

Sam Altman: Chat GPT Will Pay for Copyright! Later. Maybe.

Chat GPT contemplates closing the barn door after its stolen all the horses

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman (above) has embarked on a Future of Artificial Intelligence world tour. Future schmuture. Sam’s PR parade is a rearguard action designed to keep control of the AI narrative before governments and lawyers kick AI’s ass for any number of sins, from deep fakes to human extinction. And copyright! You want to talk about chutzpah?

OpenAI’s existence depends on large language models, which depend on large amounts of language. HUGE AMOUNTS. Chat GPT vacuumed-up this data ocean from the internet without permission. Hundreds of millions of websites feeding Mr. Altman’s beast contain copyrighted material. For which OpenAI paid bupkis.

Now, after human history’s greatest copyright heist, even as AI continues to reap billions by fencing these stolen goods, OpenAI’s CEO says "We're trying to work on new models where if an AI system is using your content, or if it's using your style, you get paid for that.”

“Trying” because a) it sounds good! and b) copyright payments will never get past the lawyers or investors. If OpenAI agreed to pay for any copyrighted material, it would have to pay for all copyrighted material. That ain’t gonna happen, despite the fact that OpenAI has raised $11.3B in funding. Sorry, because of that fact. Chat GPT ain’t no charity folks.

So Mr. Altman is a BS’er. If you said well, that’s his job, I wouldn’t argue the point. Credit where credit’s due: OpenAI’s CEO certainly knows what lyrics to use when singing a corporate rendition of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds.

“We are building a tool, not a creature,” Altman says, dismissing fears of AI going all SkyNet on our ass. AI "can make us better at everything we do, but personally I don’t think it's gonna wake up and become conscious." So we can relax about AI taking over the world because Mr. Altman says so.

The vegetarian CEO also tackled the dangers of AI bias. He swore on a stack of arugula that he wants to "really figure out what it means" for AI to "reduce bias in the world." Which shouldn’t be that hard because "AI does not have the psychological problems and the built-up crap that humans do, and so is a neutral force that can call out bias."

This from the man who runs an AI chatbot that “hallucinates.” Whose ability to “steer” people to pre-ordained conclusions (e.g., renewable energy needs to replace fossil fuel no matter what the cost) is a propagandist’s wet dream. Just ask the Chinese.

Meanwhile, someone asked Mr. Altman to address the greatest fear vexing people startled by AI’s sudden and explosive growth: job losses. "Customer service is one category where I expect a lot of those jobs, honestly, to just go away," he said. According to, the U.S. is home to 1,554,799 customer service reps. So no big deal, right?

Honestly? All of Mr. Altman’s “concerns” about AI’s future are, ultimately, financial. He will do whatever he needs to do to protect his and his investors’ billions – not the interests of writers, customer service reps or the human race.

His Future of AI tour tells us that the future is, as always, in the hands of those profiting from the present.

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