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Homechevron_rightTechnologychevron_rightOpenAI CEO says India...

OpenAI CEO says India cannot build AI like ChatGPT, Tech Mahindra CEO accepts challenge

Sam Altman

During his visit to India as part of a tour across six nations, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman made a statement that sparked controversy. At an event, former Google Vice President in India and South East Asia Rajan Anandan asked Altman if India could develop an artificial intelligence tool similar to ChatGPT. Altman's response was blunt and drew attention as said it is not possible.

He said that even if companies or individuals in India attempted to build something like ChatGPT, it would be "totally hopeless." Altman's remarks quickly gained traction on social media and many slammed him for belittling India's tech industry, IT talent pool, and startup ecosystem.

While attending an event organised by the Economic Times, Altman was asked by Rajan Anandan for guidance on how to create something like OpenAI and ChatGPT in India.

Anandan specifically asked about the potential for Indian startups to develop foundational AI models and where they should focus their efforts. "Sam, we have got a very vibrant ecosystem in Indiaâ€æ but specifically focussing on AI, are there spaces where you see a startup from India building foundational (AI) modelsâ€æ how should we think about that, where is it that a team from India (should start) to actually build something truly substantial?"

In his straightforward reply, Altman suggested it would be a futile endeavour. However, he also expressed his belief in the importance of attempting such endeavours, even if success seemed unlikely. His response indicated that competing in that particular aspect would be a significant challenge. "The way this works is we're going to tell you, it's totally hopeless to compete with us on training foundation models you shouldn't try, and it's your job to like to try anyway. And I believe both of those things. I think it is pretty hopeless."

Following the statement made by the OpenAI CEO, Rajan Anandan later took to Twitter and thanked Sam Altman for his response. However, he said that Indian entrepreneurs should never be underestimated. He emphasised India's history of entrepreneurship and expressed the intention to attempt building such technologies despite the perceived challenges.

"Thank you @sama for the clear answer. As you said, it is hopeless, but you will try anyway. 5000 years of Indian entrepreneurship has shown us that we should never underestimate the Indian entrepreneur. We do intend to try," he later tweeted.

Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani later took to Twitter and said that he accepted the challenge put forth by Sam Altman. "OpenAI founder Sam Altman said it's pretty hopeless for Indian companies to try and compete with them. Dear @sama, From one CEO to another...CHALLENGE ACCEPTED."

In response to Tech Mahindra CEO's tweet, Altman clarified that his statement had been taken out of context. He said that he was talking about competing with a $10 million budget. "This is really taken out of context! The question was about competing with us with $10 million, which I really do think is not going to work. But I still said try! However, I think it's the wrong question."

In a subsequent tweet, Altman highlighted the potential of Indian startups, stating that the right question to ask is what a startup can do that has never been done before, contributing something new to the world. He expressed no doubt that Indian startups could and would accomplish such feats, emphasising that only the builders themselves could answer that question. "The right question is what a startup can do that's never been done before, that will contribute a new thing to the world. I have no doubt that Indian startups can and will do that! And no one but the builders can answer that question."

Tech Mahindra CEO thanked Altman for the clarification.

Altman later met with PM Modi and asserted his argument that AI adoption will lead to job losses but will also create new roles. "Some jobs are going to go away. But there will be new, better jobs that are difficult to imagine (at the moment)."

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TAGS:Sam Altman in IndiaOpenAI CEO in India
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