Tech whizz before he left primary school, dropped out of one of America’s top universities.
And like so many of the billionaire entrepreneurs that have emerged from that infamous stretch of sunny California, OpenAI’s Sam Altman appears well on his way to becoming a household name.
The fresh-faced 38-year-old would have been unknown to most outside tech circles before the launch of his firm’s breakthrough chatbot ChatGPT, but he now spends much of his increasingly precious time rubbing shoulders with world leaders and some of America’s most recognisable executives.
Altman attended John Burroughs School in St Louis, and told The New Yorker in a 2016 interview that having his computer helped him come to terms with his sexuality and come out to his parents when he was a teenager.
“Growing up gay in the Midwest in the 2000s was not the most awesome thing,” he recalled. “And finding AOL chatrooms was transformative. Secrets are bad when you are 11 or 12.”
But for all the wonder such systems have provided, it’s matched — if not surpassed — by the concerns. Whether it be spreading disinformation or making jobs redundant, governments are scrambling to formulate an effective way of regulating a technology that seems destined to change the world forever.