Where We Go From Here with OpenAI's Mira Murati

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there is a lot of Focus right now on building more models but you know building good products on top of these models is incredibly difficult [Music] thank you I would love it if you're comfortable it's giving kind of the longer form of your background what brought you to open AI you know just kind of bring us up to speed and then we'll go from there yeah so um it was born in Albania just after the fall of Communism very interesting times in this you know very isolated countries sort of similar to North Korea today and I bring that up because it was I think

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very Central to sort of my education and focus in math and sciences because there was a lot of focus on maths and physics in in Coast communist Albania and you know the humanities like history and sociology and these type of topics they were a bit questionable like the source of information and truthfulness was uh was hard it was ambiguous so anyway I I got very interested in math and sciences and that's what I pursued relentlessly until you know still still working fundamentally in mathematics and over time my interests grew more from this theoretical space into actually building things and figuring

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out how to apply that knowledge to build stuff and I studied mechanical engineering and went on to work in Aerospace as an engineer and then joined Tesla shortly after where I spent a few years initially I joined to work on Model S dual motor and then I went on to model X from the early days of the initial design and eventually led the whole program um to to Launch and this is when I got very interested in applications of AI and specifically with autopilot and so I started thinking more and more about different applications of AI okay what

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happens when you when you you're using Ai and computer visually in a different domain instead of autopilot and after Tesla I went on to work on augmented reality and virtual reality because I just wanted to get experience with different domains and I thought at the time that it was the right time to actually work on special computing obviously in retrospect too early back then but anyways I learned a lot about the limitations of pushing this technology to the practicality of using it every day and at this point I started thinking more about what happens if you just focus on the generality like forget the competence in different domains and

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just focus on generality and there were two places at the time there were laser focused on this issue and open Ai and deepmind uh and I was very drawn to open AI because of its Mission and I felt like there's not going to be a more important technology that we all built than than AGI um back then I certainly did not have the same conviction about it as I do now but I thought that fundamentally if you're building intelligence it's such a it is such a core unit then the university it affects everything and so you know what what else is there is

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there to do more inspiring than than Elevate and increase Collective collective intelligence of humanity whenever I meet somebody that's a like a real um uh influencer and has done major contributions to the space they almost invariably have a physics background or a math background which is actually very different than it was 15 years ago like 15 years ago I was like you know the kind of you know it was like engineers and you know they came from lexical engineering mechanical engineering but it does feel like um you know there's something and I don't know if it's like some like quirk

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in the network or like it's it's more fundamental like systemic and I mean do you think that this is kind of the time for the physicist to step up and kind of contribute to computer science and there's something about that or do you think it's just more of a coincidence so I think maybe one thing to draw on from the theoretical space of math but also the kind of the natural problems with math is that you know you kind of need to sit with a problem for a really long time and you have to think about it sometimes to sleep and you wake up and you have a new idea and over the course of maybe a few days sometimes or weeks you get to the final solution and

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so it's not like a quick reward and sometimes it's not this iterative thing and and I think it's almost like a different way of thinking where you're building an intuition but also a sort of discipline to sit with the problem and have faith that you're going to solve it and over time you build an intuition on what problem is the right problem to actually work on so do you think it's now more of a systems problem more like kind of more of an engineering problem or do you think that we still have a lot of like kind of pretty real kind of signs to unlock um both I think the systems and the engineering problem is massive

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um is as we're deploying these Technologies out there um and we're trying to scale them we're trying to make them more efficient we're trying to make them easily accessible so you don't need to have you know to know the intricacies of ml in order to use them and actually you can see sort of the contrast between making these models available through an API and making the technology available through child GPT it's fundamentally the same technology maybe with with a small difference with reinforcement learning with human feedback for chat GPT but it's fundamentally the same technology and the reaction and the ability to to grab

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people's imagination and to get them to just use the technology every day is totally different I also think the API for example PPT is such an interesting thing so it's my program against these models myself for fun right and it always feels like whenever I'm using one of these models in a program I'm like I'm wrapping a super computer with an abacus it's like the code itself just seems so kind of flimsy compared to the model that it's wrapping sometimes I'm like listen I'm just going to give the model like a keyboard and a mouse and like and let it do the programming and then actually the API is going to be English

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and I'll just tell it what to do and it'll do all the programming and I'm just kind of curious as you designed stuff like chat GPT do you view that over time the actual interface is going to be like the like natural languages or do you think that there's still a big role for programs the programming is becoming less abstract where we can actually talk to computers in high bandwidth in natural language but another Vector is one where we're using the technology and the technology is helping us understand how to actually collaborate how to collaborate with it versus program it and I think there is definitely the layer of programming

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becoming easier more accessible because you can program things in natural language but then there is also this other side which we've seen with child GPT that you can actually collaborate with the model as if it was a companion a partner Co worker you know that's the interesting thing like it'll be very interesting to see what happens over time like you've made decision to have an API and whatever but like you don't like have an API to a co-worker right like you talk to a co-worker so it could be the case that like over time these things evolve into like you just speak natural languages or do you think it will always be a component of a finite

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State machine a traditional computer that's it yeah I think this is right now an inflection point where we're sort of you know redefining how we interact with with digital information and it's it's through you know the form of this AI systems that we collaborate with and uh maybe we have several of them and maybe they all have different competences and maybe we have a general one that kind of follows us around everywhere knows everything about uh you know my context what I've been up to today what my goals are um sort of in life at work and kind of guides me through and coaches me and so on and you know you can imagine that

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being super super powerful so I think it is we are right now at this inflection point of redefining what this looks like um but you know but there is also we don't know exactly what the future looks like and so we are trying to make these tools available and the technology available to a lot of other people so they can experiment and we can see what happens it's a strategy that we we've been using from the beginning and also with child GPT where you know the week before we were worried that it wasn't good enough and we also what happened you know we put it out there and then people told us

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it is good enough to discover new use cases and you see all this emergent use cases that I know you've written about um and that's what happens when you make this stuff accessible and easy to use and put it in the hands of everyone so this leads to my my next question which is um so you invent cold fusion and then part of it you're like okay listen I'll just give people like electrical outlets and they'll use the energy but like I think when it comes to AI people don't really know how to think about it yet and so like there has to be some guidance like you have to make yeah some choices and so you know you're an

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opening you know you have to decide what to work on next well if you could like walk through that decision process like how do you decide like what to work on or what to focus on or what to release or how to position it if you consider how Chad GPT was born it was not born as a product that we wanted to put out there in fact the real roots of it go back to like more than five years ago when we were thinking about how do you how do you make this safe AI systems um and you know you don't necessarily want humans to actually write the the goal functions because you don't want to use proxies for complex call functions or you don't want to get it wrong it

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could be very dangerous this is where reinforcement learning with human feedback was was developed where you know but what we were trying to really achieve was to align the the AI system to human values and get it to receive human feedback and based on that human feedback it would be more likely to do the right thing less likely to do the thing that you don't want it to do and uh you know after we developed gpt3 and we put it out there in the API this was the first time that we actually had Safety Research become practical into the real world and this happened through instruction following models so we use

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this method to basically take prompts from customers using the API and then we had contractors generate feedback for the model to learn from and we fine-tuned the model on on this data and build the instruction following models there were much more likely to to follow the intent of the user and to do the thing that you actually wanted to do and so this was very powerful because AI safety was not just this theoretical concept that you sit around and you talk about but it it actually became you know was sort of going into AI Safety Systems now like how do you integrate this into into the

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real world and obviously with large language models we see great representation of Concepts ideas of the real world but on the output front there are a lot of issues um and one of the biggest ones is obviously hallucinations and so we we had been studying the issue of hallucinations truthfulness um how do you get these models to express uncertainty the precursor to child GPT was actually another project that we called Web GPT and it used retrieval to be able to get information and cite sources and so this project then eventually turned into

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child gbt because we thought the dialogue was really special because it allows you to sort of you know ask questions to correct the other person to express uncertainty there's just something down the error because you're interacting exactly there is this interaction and you can get to a deeper truth um and and so anyway we we started going down this path and at the time we were doing this with gpt3 and ngpts 3.5 um and and we were very excited about this from a safety perspective um but you know one thing that people forget is that actually at this time we had already trained gbd4 and so

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internally at open AI we were very excited about gbt4 and sort of put chagibit in the rear view mirror and uh then you know we kind of realized okay we're gonna take six months to focus on alignment and safety of gbt4 and we started thinking about things that we could do and uh one of one of the main things was actually to put charge ubt in the hands of researchers out there that could give us feedback since we had this dialogue modality and so this was the original intent to actually get feedback from researchers and use it to make contributive form or aligned and safer and more robust more reliable I

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mean just for clarity when you say align and safety do you actually do you include in that like correct and does what it wants or do you mean safety like actual like protecting from some sort of harm by alignment I generally mean that it aligns with the user's intents so it does exactly the thing that you wanted to do but safety includes other things as well like misuse where the user is you know intentionally trying to use the model to generate to create harmful outputs um so yeah you can we were trying in this in this case with charge GPT we were actually

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um trying to make the model more likely to do the thing that you wanted to do to make it more lines and uh we also wanted to figure out the issue of hallucinations which is obviously an extremely hard problem but I do think that with this method of to reinforcement learning with human feedback maybe that is all we need if we push this hard dinner so there's no grand plan it was literally like what do we need to do to like get to AGI and it's just one step after right yes and it's you know all the little decisions that you make along the way but maybe what made it more likely to happen is the fact that we did make a strategic

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decision a couple of years ago to pursue products yeah and we did this because we thought it was actually crucial to figure out how to deploy these models in the real world and it would not be possible to just you know sit in a lab and develop this thing in a vacuum without feedback from users from The Real World so there was there was a hypothesis and and I think that that helped us along the way make some of these decisions build the underlying infrastructure so that we could actually eventually deploy things like I would love if you would Riff on scaling laws I think this is the big question that everybody has like I mean

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like the pace of progress has been phenomenal and you would love to think that the the graph always does this but like the history of AI seems to be that like you hit diminishing returns at some point and it's not parametric it kind of like tapers off and so from your standpoint was probably like the most informed vantage point in the entire industry do you think the scaling laws are going to hold and we're going to continue to see advancements or do you think we're hitting diminishing returns so there isn't any evidence that we will not get much better much more capable models as we

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continue to scale them across the access of data and compute whether that takes you all the way to AGI or not that's a different question there are probably some other breakthroughs and advancements needed along the way but I think there's still a long way to go in in the scaling laws and to really gather a lot of benefits from from these larger models how do you define AGI um in our chart Opening Our Charter we we Define it as a computer system basically that is able to perform autonomously the majority of intellectual work okay I am was that I was at a lunch and Robert nishihara from any scale was there and um and he asked

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what I called it Robert nishihara question which I thought was actually very good characterization he said okay so like you've got to continue in between like say a computer and Einstein so you can go from a computer to a cat you know from a cat to an average human and you go from an average human to Einstein then they ask a question of okay so where are we on the continue what problem have we solved and the consensus was we know how to go from a cat to an average human like we don't know how to go from like a computer to a cat because like that's you know that's the general perception problem or very close but we're not quite there yet and

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then we don't really know how to do the Einstein which is kind of set to set reasoning with fine tuning you can get a lot obviously um but in general I think we're sort of the most tasks kind of like in turn level I would say that's what I I generally say the issue is reliability right of course you know you can't fully rely on the system to do the thing that you wanted to do all the time and you know how do you increase that reliability over time and then how do you obviously expand to the the capabilities um the new the emergent capabilities the new things that these models can do I

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think though that it's important to pay attention to these emerging capabilities even if if they're highly unreliable and especially for people that you know are building companies today you really want to think about okay what what's somewhat possible today um what do you see glimpses of today because you know very quickly this could actually become these models could become reliable so I'd love I've been asking just a second to prognosticate on what that looks like but before very selfishly I've got uh I've got a question on on how you think the economics of this are going to pencil out which is

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I'll tell you what it reminds me of it reminds me very much of the Silicon industry so I remember in the 90s when you buy a computer there are all these weird co-processors there's like here's like string matching here's a floating Point here's crypto and like all of them got consumed into basically the the CPU it just turns out generality was very powerful and that created a certain type of economy one where like you had you know Intel and AMD and like you know it all went in there and of course because a lot of money to build these chips and so like you can imagine two Futures there's one future

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where like you know generality is so powerful that over time the large models basically consume all functionality and then there's another future where there's going to be a whole bunch of models and like things fragment and you know different points of the design space do you have a sense of like is it open Ai and nobody or is it everybody it kind of depends what you're trying to do so obviously the trajectory is one where these AI systems will be doing will be doing more and more of the work that we're doing and they'll be able to operate autonomously but we will need to provide Direction and guidance and oversee but I don't want to do a lot

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of the repetitive work that I have to do every day I want to focus on other things and maybe we don't have to work you know 10 12 hours a day and maybe we can work less and Achieve even higher outputs and so that's sort of what I'm hoping for but in terms of like how this how this works out with with the platform um you can see even today you know we make a lot of models available through our API and from the various from the very small models to to our Frontier models and people don't always need to use the most powerful the most capable model

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sometimes they just made the model that actually fits for their specific use case and it's far more economical so I think there's going to be a range um but yeah in terms of how we're Imagining the platform play um we definitely want people to build on top of our models and we want to give them tools so to make that easy and give them more and more access and control so you know you can bring your data you can customize these models and you can really focus on the layer beyond the model and defining the products which is actually really really hard there is a lot of Focus right now on building more models but you know building good

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products on top of these models is incredibly difficult okay we only have a couple more minutes sadly I would love for you to prognosticate a little bit unlike where you think this is all going like yeah like three years or five years or ten years I think that um the the foundation models today obviously have this great representation of the world in text and we're adding other modalities like images and video and various other things so these models can get a more comprehensive sense of the world around us similar to how we understand and observe the world the world is not just in text it's also in images so I think

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that will certainly expand in in that direction and we'll have these bigger models that will have all these modalities um and that's kind of the pre-training part of the work where we really want to get these pre-trained models that understand the world like we do and then there is the output part of the model where we introduced reinforcement learning with human feedback and we want the model to do the actually the thing that we ask it to do and we want that to be reliable and there is a ton of work that needs to happen here and maybe introducing browsing so you can get fresh

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information and you can cite information and solve hallucinations I don't think that's impossible I think that's achievable on the product side I think we want to put this all together in this collection of agents that people collaborate with and you know really provide a platform where people can build on top of and you know if you extrapolate really far out these models are going to be incredibly incredibly powerful and with that obviously comes fear of them being misaligned having this very powerful model that are misaligned with our intentions so then a huge challenge becomes the the challenge of of super alignment which is a

Key Themes, Chapters & Summary

Key Themes

  • Personal Journey in Technology

  • AI's Impact on Work and Society

  • Development of General-Purpose AI

  • Ethical Alignment and Safety in AI

  • Democratization of AI Technology

  • Future Trajectories of AI


Chapters

  • Introduction and Background of Mira Murati

  • AI and the Changing Work Landscape

  • Building Versatile and Safe AI Systems

  • Aligning AI with Human Values

  • Making AI Accessible and Universal

  • Envisioning AI's Future Role in Everyday Life


Summary

The podcast "Where We Go From Here with OpenAI's Mira Murati," delves into the transformative impact of AI technology on various domains, featuring Mira Murati, a leading figure at OpenAI. The discussion, hosted by Seth Smith, spans a wide range of topics from the evolution of AI to its future potential and challenges.


Murati begins by recounting her background, from her early life in post-communist Albania to her career in mechanical engineering and aerospace. She details her journey through various tech domains, including her time at Tesla working on the Model S and Model X, and her growing interest in AI, leading to her role at OpenAI.


The conversation then shifts to the broader impact of AI in society. Murati discusses the changing landscape of work, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rise of remote work models. She reflects on how AI and distributed work could reshape not only work environments but also the structure of cities and communities.


A central theme of the podcast is the development and deployment of AI models. Murati speaks about the challenges and opportunities in building AI systems that are general-purpose, versatile, and safe. She emphasizes the importance of alignment in AI – ensuring that AI systems act in ways that are beneficial and aligned with human values.


Murati also addresses the potential of AI to democratize access to technology and knowledge. She discusses OpenAI's approach to making AI tools widely available and accessible, allowing for broad experimentation and discovery of new use cases.


The podcast touches on the future trajectory of AI, with Murati expressing optimism about the continued advancement of AI technologies. She envisions a future where AI agents become more integrated into daily life, acting as collaborators and assistants in various tasks.


In conclusion, the podcast offers a deep and insightful look into the current state and future possibilities of AI, as seen through the eyes of one of the field's prominent figures. Murati's perspective provides a compelling vision of how AI can continue to shape and improve various aspects of human life.