Former OpenAI Employee Alleges AGI Bidding War Plans with China and Russia

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Globe with China, Russia, and USA flags representing AGI bidding war allegations by former OpenAI employee.

In a recent interview, a former OpenAI employee has made startling claims about the company’s alleged plans to initiate a global bidding war for artificial general intelligence (AGI) among the governments of the United States, China, and Russia. The allegations have sparked significant controversy and raised questions about the ethical implications of such a strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • Former OpenAI safety researcher Leopold Aschenbrenner claims the company planned to start a global AGI bidding war.
  • The alleged plan involved selling AGI to the governments of the United States, China, and Russia.
  • Aschenbrenner was fired from OpenAI earlier this year after raising concerns about the Chinese Communist Party potentially stealing key algorithmic secrets.
  • OpenAI has denied the allegations but has not commented specifically on the bidding war claims.

Allegations of a Bidding War

During an interview with tech podcaster Dwarkesh Patel, ex-OpenAI safety researcher Leopold Aschenbrenner revealed that he had heard from multiple sources within the company about a plan to fund and sell AGI by starting a bidding war between the United States, China, and Russia. According to Aschenbrenner, it was surprising that OpenAI would consider selling AGI to the Chinese and Russian governments.

"There’s also something that feels eerily familiar about starting this bidding war and then playing them off each other, saying, ‘well, if you don’t do this, China will do it," Aschenbrenner said during the interview.

Reasons for Dismissal

Aschenbrenner also discussed the circumstances surrounding his dismissal from OpenAI earlier this year. He claimed that he was fired after the company’s human resources department took issue with a memo he had sent to senior management. The memo warned about the potential theft of key algorithmic secrets by the Chinese Communist Party. HR deemed the warning memo "racist" and "unconstructive," leading to questions about his loyalty to the company.

The former researcher stated that he was fired for leaking information after the company went through his computer and found documents he had shared during a brainstorming session on preparedness, safety, and security measures with outside researchers. HR took issue with a line he had included about planning for AGI by 2027 to 2028 and not setting timelines for preparedness, suggesting that sharing it constituted a leak.

OpenAI’s Response

In a statement to Business Insider, OpenAI said it shares Aschenbrenner’s "commitment to building safe AGI" but disagrees with his characterization of the company’s work. The company has not yet commented on the specific allegations regarding a planned global AGI bidding war.

Aschenbrenner expressed his astonishment that OpenAI would consider selling AGI to the Chinese and Russian governments. He highlighted the potential implications of initiating a bidding war and then playing these governments off against each other. Patel responded to these allegations by stating, "That’s pretty f***** up."

The controversy surrounding these allegations continues to unfold, and it remains to be seen how OpenAI will address the claims made by its former employee.

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