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OpenAI CEO Envisions ‘Universal Basic Compute’ Replacing Cash Handouts

In a recent interview, Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI and chairperson of Tools for Humanity, expressed his belief that the rapid progress in artificial intelligence (AI) could lead to a significant restructuring of socioeconomic systems. Altman proposed a vision where access to computational resources, or “compute,” could potentially replace monetary income as a means of providing a universal basic income (UBI).

While acknowledging the potential dangers of advanced AI systems, such as the risk of human extinction or job displacement, Altman advocated for a global oversight board to regulate the most powerful AI projects. This board would ensure reasonable safety testing without stifling innovation for startups.

Regarding the threat of job losses due to AI, Altman, a long-standing proponent of UBI, criticized current government poverty assistance programs as largely ineffective. He suggested a simple and respectful approach of providing people with direct cash transfers, allowing them to make their own decisions and relying on market forces.

However, Altman speculated that the future might look different from the traditional concept of UBI. Instead of receiving cash handouts, individuals could be granted access to a portion of the computational resources of advanced AI systems like GPT-7. These resources could then be used, resold, or donated for various purposes, such as cancer research.