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Larry Summers Says OpenAI Technology ‘Extraordinarily Important’

(Bloomberg) -- Lawrence Summers, a new board member at artificial intelligence startup OpenAI, said that the startup’s work was “extraordinarily important” and that the company needed to operate as a “corporation with a conscience.”

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OpenAI “has to be prepared to cooperate with key government officials on regulatory issues, on national security issues, on development of technology issues,” Summers said on Bloomberg Television’s Wall Street Week with David Westin on Friday.

The remarks shed light on what Summers, a former US treasury secretary, plans to work on at the Silicon Valley startup.

Summers officially joined OpenAI’s board this week, not long after the company descended into a chaotic leadership battle that riveted Silicon Valley. On Nov. 17, the company’s board fired Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman, but days later reached an agreement to reinstate him. Most of the board that fired Altman has stepped down and been replaced with a new slate of directors that includes Summers and former Salesforce Inc. co-CEO Bret Taylor.

Asked if he had a plan for how the company could be governed safely, Summers said, “I’ve been on the job two days,” noting that his on-boarding packet for the job would be arriving this weekend.

Summers, a Harvard University professor and paid contributor to Bloomberg TV, also said that he stood by a statement he made earlier this year predicting that AI “is coming for the cognitive class,” and could replace some white-collar jobs.

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