What Mira Murati wants you to know about OpenAI

June 20, 2024

Murati, the chief technology officer at ChatGPT’s parent company, shares what she wants the public to know about AI, its risks, and its potential

Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer, is perhaps most well-known for serving as the company’s CEO for a brief period in between executive Sam Altman’s firing and reinstatement, a time known inside OpenAI as “the blip.”

“It was kind of stressful,” Murati said of her time as CEO during a recent taping of On with Kara Swisher held at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center.

As CTO of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, Murati has become one of the most powerful people in the technology industry, even if she is often overshadowed by Altman. Here’s what you should know about her:

  1. She’s optimistic about AI.

A running theme in the conversation between Murati and Swisher was the journalist’s skepticism about the responsible use of AI and the CTO’s insistence that the potential far outweighs the risk. Murati called Swisher’s take “hopeless” and defended the technology.

“AI is a really incredible and magical technology, but the breadth, the reach, the consequence, is also great,” she said. “Our entire world is engineering—like our cities, our bridges, everything—and there’s always risk that comes with that, and you manage that risk with responsibility.”

  1. Murati has a “strong partnership” with Altman.

Murati praised Altman, saying, “Sam is a visionary, who has great ambition. And he’s built an amazing company where we have a strong partnership.”

Still, she admitted the pair weren’t “entirely coordinated” when it came to selecting the voice used for ChatGPT’s new voice capabilities. After she chose the voice actor for “Sky,” Altman reached out to actress Scarlett Johansson’s team to ask for use of her voice. The discrepancy led Johansson to send two letters asking the company to detail how it developed Sky’s voice.

  1. She thinks the debate over AI safety vs. progress is overstated.

Much of the discussion surrounding AI advances in general and OpenAI, in particular, has focused on a debate between those who believe the pace of research should slow down and those who want it to speed up. Two of the company’s top safety experts recently resigned, with one claiming, “Over the past years, safety culture and processes have taken a back seat to shiny products.”

Murati disagreed with that assignment. “Nobody wants a product that is going to create safety or reputational risk,” she said.

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