OpenAI CEO Sam Altman pledges to donate most of his wealth

English | 29 May, 2024 | 10:07 AM
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OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has pledged to donate the majority of his wealth to charitable causes. Altman joins a growing list of billionaires who have committed substantial portions of their fortunes to philanthropic endeavors.

The announcement comes after a turbulent period for Altman, who Forbes estimates has a net worth of $1 billion, largely due to his investments.

In November, he was briefly removed from his position as CEO, causing shockwaves in the rapidly evolving AI industry, but was later reinstated.

Altman, who initially established OpenAI as a nonprofit research organization dedicated to developing AI safely for the benefit of humanity, now intends to focus his philanthropic efforts on "technology that helps create abundance for people." In a joint letter with his husband, technology investor Oliver Mulherin, dated May 18, Altman expressed gratitude for the hard work and dedication of those who have contributed to the advancement of society, saying, "There is nothing we can do except feel immense gratitude and commit to pay it forward, and do what we can to build the scaffolding up a little higher."

The Giving Pledge, established in 2010 by Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates, and Warren Buffett, aims to encourage philanthropy among the world's wealthiest individuals to address pressing global issues. The initiative has attracted more than 240 signatories from 30 countries, although some critics argue that there is insufficient oversight to ensure that pledgers fulfill their commitments.

Altman has not specified the exact causes he will support, but his track record suggests a focus on areas such as education, scientific research, and global health. His philanthropic philosophy aligns with his professional mission at OpenAI, where he has emphasized the ethical development and deployment of artificial intelligence.

Altman's decision is part of a broader trend among tech leaders who are using their financial resources to address global challenges. In addition to Altman and Mulherin, the latest group of Giving Pledge signatories includes Mercuria CEO Marco Dunand and entrepreneur Suzan Craig Dunand, who have established a Swiss foundation to accelerate the transition to net zero carbon emissions; retired value investor Robert D. Goldfarb, who plans to donate 90% of his wealth during his lifetime; investor Jahm Najafi and entrepreneur Cheryl Najafi, who have recently focused their philanthropy on racial equity; and Hemant Taneja, head of a technology investment capital firm, and real estate developer Jessica Schantz Taneja.

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