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Sam Altman Says ‘Voice Is a Hint’ at the Next Big Thing in AI

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OpenAI is gearing up for a much-anticipated spring update to GPT-4 and ChatGPT on Monday, and multiple reports are pointing to voice as the next frontier for Sam Altman’s AI company. On Friday’s episode of the All-In podcast, Altman indicated that voice-based AI systems, much like in the 2013 film “Her,” could be a hint at the future of AI-enabled devices.

“I think you’d have to like find some really different interaction paradigm that the technology enables,” said Altman, when asked what device comes after the iPhone. Then host Jason Calacanis noted that ChatGPT already has a text-to-speech feature. “We’ll get that better. And I think voice is a hint to whatever the next thing is. Like if you can get voice interaction to be really good, I think that feels like a different way to use a computer.”

In conversation with Sam Altman

Earlier on Friday, The Information reported that OpenAI’s planned launch on Monday morning could unveil an AI system that talks to people using sound as well as text. ChatGPT can currently understand speech from humans and respond. However, it uses a separate AI system to translate this into text. This new system reportedly brings these features together, which could reduce the latency issues that currently plague the modality.

As Altman mused about what succeeds the iPhone, he was careful not to insult Apple’s technology like he sometimes does his own company’s products. Quite the contrary, he called the iPhone “the greatest piece of technology humanity has ever made.” While certainly not the first to say it, Altman may be trying to appease a new business partner rather than simply stroke Apple’s already large ego.

Bloomberg reported on Friday that Apple has closed in on an agreement with OpenAI to use the startup’s technology on the iPhone, alongside other AI features that Apple will supply itself. This comes after months of reported negotiations between Apple, Google, and OpenAI about a potential AI partnership to power the next generation of an AI-powered Siri. However, Bloomberg reports that Google’s negotiations with Apple are ongoing.

A voice-related update to ChatGPT would certainly excite Apple and its users about a potential iPhone integration. As always, Sam Altman’s cryptic behavior is throwing the AI community into a whirlpool of rumors. For the first time in nearly three months, Altman liked a tweet that reads, “Currently watching Her to prepare for Monday.”

Other rumors about the OpenAI product launch include some integration of the gpt2-chatbots that Altman has long been teasing folks over. Others expect an update that could improve the free version of ChatGPT, which is currently limited at GPT-3.5, fulfilling a goal Altman has stated in the past. And just like when Sam Altman was fired, the entire OpenAI staff is engaged in a coordinated tweet storm to show their rallying support for the company. This time, they’re all excited about each other’s excitement.



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