Sam Altman Says GPT-5 Will Be ‘Okay’

The pendulum of hype swings back

Alberto Romero


A puppeteer and his pendulum puppet

This article is a selection from The Algorithmic Bridge, an educational project aimed at bridging the gap between AI and people.

Don’t you find it annoying that the CEOs of AI companies are constantly playing both sides? They hype AI to raise expectations only to try to calm the mood afterward, once enthusiasm spirals out of control.

That’s what OpenAI CEO Sam Altman does all the time. He’s done it again.

Sam Altman’s intentionally confusing messaging

In 2023 he said things like “AGI is gonna be wild” or that OpenAI’s 2024 products will make GPT-4 “look very quaint.” Now he says AGI will change the world but “much less than we think” and GPT-5 “will be okay,” as he told journalists at Davos earlier this month.

I have a question: What’s he playing? It’s a rhetorical one because we already know. He’s just swinging the public’s sentiment on one hand while on the other he manages his business. Nothing unusual although rarely done with such mastery and smoothness. Altman plays the press like no other tech CEO.

The non-rhetorical question is this: Which one is the truth?

Will GPT-5 be “much smarter and provide more functions than previous models,” as he later said during another interview at Davos, or merely “okay” (not the adjective we want to hear)? Will AGI bring about a post-scarcity world of wealth abundance or change the world “much less than we think”?

Nuanced takes are prohibited by marketing laws

The problem with hype (and anti-hype, for that matter) is that it is the enemy of nuance.

You can’t generate over-the-top interest and attention with level-headed arguments. You need slogans. Altman knows this very well so he avoids weak opinions. His stance often feels balanced because he juggles emotionally-opposite yet strength-comparable takes all the time. He’s the epitome of “strong opinions, weakly held.”

That’s not what you want from the fire-bearer of the gods.

He throws around crazy techno-optimistic predictions, like when he says that AI…