OpenAI is working on AI education, safety initiative with Common Sense



    Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, attends the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 18, 2024.

    Denis Balibouse | Reuters

    OpenAI said on Monday that it’s partnering with Common Sense Media on an initiative designed to help teens understand how to use artificial intelligence in a safe manner.

    “We want to figure out how to make this tool safely and responsibly and broadly available to teens and people who are going to use it as part of their educational experience,” OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said at a Common Sense event in San Francisco.

    Common Sense, a nonprofit focused on making technology safe and accessible to kids, has been working to develop an AI ratings and review system intended for parents, children and educators to better understand the technology’s risks and benefits. Some of the questions Common Sense wants to answer include whether AI fosters a love of learning among youth, if it respects human rights and children’s rights and if the technology can perpetuate the spread of misinformation.

    The goal of the new partnership is to help create AI guidelines and education materials for children, educators and parents and to help curate “family-friendly” GPT-branded large language models that adhere to Common Sense’s rating and standards. GPT is the backbone of OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot, which was launched in late 2022.

    Common Sense Media CEO Jim Steyer said in a statement that the materials developed through the partnership “will be designed to educate families and educators about safe, responsible use of ChatGPT, so that we can collectively avoid any unintended consequences of this emerging technology.”

    At the event on Monday, Altman briefly spoke about the partnership and AI more broadly, saying that he hopes it will “benefit kids without access” to AI. Part of OpenAI’s mission is to “make really helpful AI available for free,” he said.

    In September, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Craigslist founder’s philanthropic arm, said it contributed $3 million to help fund a Common Sense AI and education initiative. Craig Newmark told CNBC at the time that some of his concerns about AI include the possibility that bad actors can use the technology to influence the information ecosystem and contribute to societal discontent.

    OpenAI and Common Sense didn’t say how LLMs will be tweaked to help aid educators or teens. Altman said LLMs customized for educational purposes could help teens “who want to learn about science or learn about biology.”

    “I don’t think we know yet exactly how people are going to want to use it,” Altman said. He added that he envisions a world in which “every teen or every adult is going to have a personalized AI.”

    Regarding the upcoming elections and the potential risks posed by so-called deepfakes to confuse people, Altman acknowledged that AI-generated images pose problems but said “I think people are much more sophisticated than we give them credit for, and you don’t believe every image you see.”

    He talked about how OpenAI is preparing for the potential ways bad actors could use AI.

    “We’ve set up a big response effort,” he said. “This will be monitored very closely.”

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