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Where Altman Meets Macron: The Quest For AI Alignment, Between Private And Public

The inventor of ChatGPT is in Europe to try to force leaders on the Continent to face hard questions about what artificial intelligence is bringing to our world, whether they like it or not.

Looped GIF of Emmanuel Macron's face merging with Emmanuel Altman's

Sam Macron or Emmanuel Altman?

Worldcrunch mashup
Pierre Haski


PARIS — Six months ago, Sam Altman’s name was only known to a small circle of technophiles. Earlier this week, when he came to France, he was received by President Emmanuel Macron and the Minister of Economy, and he is back in Paris on Friday to make other connections. On his Twitter account, he described his trip as a "World Tour," like a pop star.

Altman is the CEO of OpenAI, the U.S. company that created ChatGPT, the natural language artificial intelligence tool that has literally shaken the world. With 200 million users worldwide in just six months, ChatGPT has broken all sorts of records for the speed of technology adoption.

The world of Tech is prone to trends, and not all of them last. However, to quote Gilles Babinet, co-president of the National Digital Council in France, who has recently published an essay on the history of the internet titled Comment les hippies, Dieu et la science ont inventé Internet("How the Internet Was Invented by Hippies, God and Science"), we are currently facing an "anthropological break."

In other words, a qualitative leap that will impact all human activities, and even the political organization of our societies — with both positive and negative results.

Negative consequences

With such a significant breakthrough, concerns have quickly emerged, some of which have been voiced by researchers and entrepreneurs themselves. Some have futilely called for a moratorium. Calls for "regulation" are almost a natural reflex, especially in Europe, where technological advancements are too often simply experienced rather than invented.

Altman himself advocates for state regulation that allows for the emergence of a technology that has entered an exponential phase of development, while ensuring the prevention of abuse and negative consequences. However, during his visit to London this week, he issued a warning: If the impending European regulation is too restrictive, he will not hesitate to withdraw his software from the continent.

Could they cooperate on this issue when technology lies at the heart of their confrontation?

An even more radical figure in the debate is Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google who now leads a powerful defense technology fund. He believes that regulation should be left in the hands of tech players rather than politicians who, in his opinion, have no understanding of it whatsoever.

Emmanuel Macron's official Twitter account

Self-regulation or cooperation 

However, the idea of regulation is widely shared. No serious individual considers allowing the players in such an existential sector to self-regulate.

The recent G7 summit in Hiroshima even established a global think tank on AI, and some saw it as a prefiguration of an international authority similar to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency.

However, two pitfalls arise: the first is the Cold War climate between China and the United States. Could they cooperate on this issue when technology lies at the heart of their confrontation?

The second concern is raised by Schmidt: How many elected officials or technocrats in our countries have an actual grasp of the subject? In 2018, the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo dedicated an entire session to artificial intelligence, a wise move.

Such evangelization is necessary in our societies, to be sure that we are not solely driven by fears and fantasies — and can become more than simply passive recipients.

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Shame On The García Márquez Heirs — Cashing In On The "Scraps" Of A Legend

A decision to publish a sketchy manuscript as a posthumous novel by the late Gabriel García Márquez would have horrified Colombia's Nobel laureate, given his painstaking devotion to the precision of the written word.

Photo of a window with a sticker of the face of Gabriel Garcia Marquez with butterfly notes at Guadalajara's International Book Fair.

Poster of Gabriel Garcia Marquez at Guadalajara's International Book Fair.

Juan David Torres Duarte


BOGOTÁ — When a writer dies, there are several ways of administering the literary estate, depending on the ambitions of the heirs. One is to exercise a millimetric check on any use or edition of the author's works, in the manner of James Joyce's nephew, Stephen, who inherited his literary rights. He refused to let even academic papers quote from Joyce's landmark novel, Ulysses.

Or, you continue to publish the works, making small additions to their corpus, as with Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett and Clarice Lispector, or none at all, which will probably happen with Milan Kundera and Cormac McCarthy.

Another way is to seek out every scrap of paper the author left and every little word that was jotted down — on a piece of cloth, say — and drip-feed them to publishers every two to three years with great pomp and publicity, to revive the writer's renown.

This has happened with the Argentine Julio Cortázar (who seems to have sold more books dead than alive), the French author Albert Camus (now with 200 volumes of personal and unfinished works) and with the Chilean author Roberto Bolaño. The latter's posthumous oeuvre is so abundant I am starting to wonder if his heirs haven't hired a ghost writer — typing and smoking away in some bedsit in Barcelona — to churn out "newly discovered" works.

Which group, I wonder, will our late, great novelist Gabriel García Márquez fit into?

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