OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently made headlines with his announcement of a six-nation tour, including a visit to India. True to his word, Altman arrived in India and engaged in various activities during his visit. One notable event was an interaction organized by The Economic Times, where he was asked a thought-provoking question by Rajan Anandan, a former Vice President of Google in India and South East Asia and a prominent venture capitalist. Anandan sought Altman’s insights on India’s potential to develop an artificial intelligence tool like ChatGPT and where Indian startups should focus their efforts in the AI field.
Altman responded with candour, acknowledging the vibrancy of India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. However, he expressed his belief that it would be challenging for Indian companies to directly compete with OpenAI in training foundation models, such as ChatGPT. Despite his statement of doubt, Altman encouraged Indian entrepreneurs to embrace the challenge and pursue their endeavours in AI.
Altman’s response signifies a realistic assessment of the competitive landscape while simultaneously encouraging Indian startups to leverage their strengths and explore unique avenues in the AI field. Rather than discouraging innovation, Altman’s words serve as a call to action, motivating Indian entrepreneurs to think creatively and find their own significant contributions to the AI landscape. As India continues to foster a thriving startup ecosystem and invest in AI research and development, Altman’s visit and insights are likely to inspire a new wave of innovation and propel India’s position in the global AI arena.
“The way this works is we’re going to tell you, it’s totally hopeless to compete with us on training foundation models you shouldn’t try, and it’s your job to like to try anyway. And I believe both of those things. I think it is pretty hopeless,” Altman said.
CP Gurnani, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Tech Mahindra, was quick to share Altman’s reply on Twitter, expressing his acceptance of the challenge presented. Gurnani conveyed his determination to prove Altman’s statement wrong. “OpenAI founder Sam Altman said it’s pretty hopeless for Indian companies to try and compete with them. Dear @sama, From one CEO to another.. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED,” he tweeted.
“At Tech Mahindra, we started working on Generative AI around 2015-16 with one of our first IP created in the media domain called Storicool. An auto content creation platform, it was beyond its years. Since then, we have launched a suite of AI offerings for enterprises to help them in their digital acceleration journeys. We were also among the first IT services company whose chatbot, developed by makers lab, became the 51 most credible chatbots (in the era of chatbots) in 2016,” Gurnani told Business Today.
Meanwhile, Anandan, also undeterred by Altman’s initial scepticism, chose to remain optimistic. He took to Twitter to thank Sam Altman for his response and emphasised that Indian entrepreneurs possess an indomitable spirit that should never be underestimated. “Thank you, Sam Altman, for the clear answer. As you said, ‘It is hopeless, but you will try anyway.’ 5000 years of Indian entrepreneurship have shown us that we should never underestimate the Indian entrepreneur. We do intend to try,” he tweeted.
During his visit, Altman had the privilege of meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, further emphasizing the significance of his trip to India. Altman took the opportunity to discuss India’s adoption and potential utilization of ChatGPT, showcasing the growing interest and relevance of AI within the country. This meeting with Prime Minister Modi not only highlights the importance of AI in India’s technological agenda but also demonstrates the government’s recognition of the transformative potential of AI-powered tools like ChatGPT. By engaging in such discussions with key figures in India’s leadership, Altman solidifies OpenAI’s commitment to collaborating and fostering partnerships on a global scale, propelling the advancements of AI technology for the betterment of society.