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OpenAI's New Venture: Crowdsourcing AI Governance

January 16, 2024


  • OpenAI's Collective Alignment Team: Integrating public input into AI model development.
  • Democratic AI Development: Funding experiments for a public-driven AI governance process.
  • Commercial and Regulatory Balance: Navigating the tension between innovation and regulation.
  • Election Security Initiatives: Addressing the potential misuse of AI in elections.

A Bold Step into Democratic AI Development

In a recent move, OpenAI has unveiled its plans to integrate public opinion into the development of its AI models. This initiative is spearheaded by the formation of the Collective Alignment team, a group dedicated to transforming public input into concrete guidelines for OpenAI's products and services. It's like asking your neighbors to help paint your house, but instead, they're helping design the future of AI.

The Birth of Collective Alignment

The Collective Alignment team isn't a random brainwave from OpenAI. It's an extension of their existing program launched last May, which focused on funding experiments to establish a "democratic process" in AI rule-setting. Imagine holding a town hall meeting, but for deciding how your AI should behave. This program funded various projects, ranging from video chat interfaces to platforms for crowdsourcing AI model audits, essentially making AI governance a group project.

Public Involvement: More Than Just a Suggestion Box

OpenAI isn't just paying lip service to public engagement. The company has been actively recruiting research engineers from diverse technical backgrounds. They're not just looking for resumes filled with impressive degrees; they're seeking a variety of perspectives to truly democratize AI development. It's like assembling a superhero team, but instead of fighting crime, they're wrangling algorithms.

The Tension Between Commerce and Regulation

Despite OpenAI's efforts to appear neutral and detached from commercial interests, skepticism remains, especially given CEO Sam Altman's critiques of AI regulation in the EU and beyond. The company's leadership believes that AI's rapid pace of innovation outstrips the ability of current regulatory bodies to keep up. It's like trying to enforce speed limits on a race track.

Under the Regulators' Microscope

OpenAI's relationship with Microsoft and its operations in the EU have put it under intense scrutiny from regulators. In a savvy move, the company has leveraged its Dublin-based subsidiary to navigate the complex web of EU data privacy regulations. It's a bit like playing chess with bureaucratic knights and rook-like regulations.

Addressing Election Security Concerns

In a nod to policymakers and to mitigate concerns, OpenAI has announced collaborations to limit AI's potential misuse in influencing elections. They're working on making AI-generated images more recognizable and developing ways to identify manipulated content. Think of it as putting a digital watermark on AI's creations.

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