Greg Brockman and Drew Houston talk about how AI can benefit humanity


Published on October 10, 2019

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Greg Brockman, CTO and co-founder of OpenAI, joined Dropbox CEO Drew Houston for a conversation at our first Work in Progress conference last month in San Francisco. OpenAI’s mission is to make sure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity. Along the way to that aspiration their research is pushing the field of artificial intelligence forward in ways that promise to make people’s working lives better in the near term. 

OpenAI has gotten a lot of attention for its focus on AI safety and policy recommendations. They’ve testified before the US Congress on AI safety issues, and actively consider the potential for abuse before releasing new capabilities. “One thing that a lot of people miss with AI is it’s not just about preventing the downsides,” Brockman says, “it’s also about making sure we capture the amazing potential that it has. The thing that we’re really excited about is the possibility of AI working with humans to solve problems that are just outside of human abilities to solve. Think about climate change and the massive complexities that entails.”

Brockman points out that although current AI technologies require the equivalent capital investments of particle accelerators in physics, “one thing that’s different is that AI is also incrementally useful. Every single advance that we make has the potential to make it into real-world applications.” One source of these advances is transferring progress from one problem space to another. “We actually took that exact same technology used to play this video game [Dota 2],” says Brockman, “and we pointed it at a robotic problem that no one could solve—being able to program a robot hand—which is totally out of the realm of what human programmers can do, because there’s so many degrees of freedom, and we were able to solve that problem.”

Find out more about OpenAI’s work with language generation, video games, music, robotics, and the jobs of the future in this recording of their conversation. “The whole point of building technologies is to enhance humans,” Brockman says, “to make our lives better, to make it so we can be more ourselves, so we can do more of what we want.”