OpenAI CEO Backtracks on Talk of Abandoning Europe: ‘No Plans to Leave’

“We are excited to continue to operate here,” Sam Altman said

Samuel Altman, CEO of OpenAI, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law
Samuel Altman, CEO of OpenAI, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law (Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI — the company behind ChatGPT — has been touring Europe to talk about AI, regulation and similar matters therein. Along the way, he made a remark on Wednesday he’s since hopped on Twitter to backtrack.

During his visit to University College London, Altman addressed the operational complications presented by E.U. safety requirements that may be imposed on tech such as ChatGPT (as reported by Time).

According to the report, Altman made it clear Europe was not a make-or-break region for OpenAI.

“Either we’ll be able to solve those requirements or not,” Altman said when discussing the potential operating hurdles. “If we can comply, we will, and if we can’t, we’ll cease operating… We will try. But there are technical limits to what’s possible.”

On Thursday night, Altman sounded off on Twitter to clarify OpenAI’s stance on operating within Europe.

“Very productive week of conversations in Europe about how to best regulate AI!” Altman wrote. “We are excited to continue to operate here and of course have no plans to leave.”

Though his reported remarks at University College London did not explicitly state OpenAI had plans to ditch the E.U. and operations therein, they did indicate the company was willing to cook up contingencies if the E.U. became too meddlesome to deal with.

In any event, Altman’s tweet provides a clear stance regarding his company’s views on working with (and within) Europe.

Regulation is very much on the company’s mind, as is ensuring that certain projects are exempt from such oversight. For reference: In a recent blog post, authored by Altman and two colleagues, he wrote that OpenAI thinks “it’s important to allow companies and open-source projects to develop models below a significant capability threshold, without the kind of regulation we describe here (including burdensome mechanisms like licenses or audits).”

Elon Musk commented on that very passage by way of reacting with a “bullseye” emoji to someone calling OpenAI’s argument against regulation “horse shit.”

OpenAI did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.