OpenAI’s Lightcap on Business Applications for AI

Bloomberg Live
9 May 202418:35

TLDRBrad Lightcap, COO at OpenAI, discusses the company's transformation from a research-focused entity to a business with a product. He talks about the early days of OpenAI, the shift from reinforcement learning to transformer-based AI, and the ambitious goal of creating AGI (Artificial General Intelligence). Lightcap addresses concerns about AGI's potential risks and emphasizes OpenAI's commitment to safety and broad benefit. He also shares insights on the future of AI, its applications in the enterprise, and the importance of partnerships, particularly with Microsoft, in advancing AI technology.


  • 📈 Brad Lightcap joined OpenAI in 2018 when the company was more of a research board without a clear business model or product.
  • ⚙️ OpenAI initially focused on reinforcement learning for tasks like video games and robotics, before shifting focus to transformer-based AI architectures.
  • 🌟 The company's mission is to build artificial general intelligence (AGI), a system capable of doing most tasks with general reasoning ability.
  • 🛡️ AGI is an ambitious and potentially scary goal, prompting OpenAI to prioritize safety and broad benefit in its operations.
  • 🔍 OpenAI takes an iterative approach to technology deployment, learning from early use cases to refine safety systems and techniques.
  • 🚀 Anticipated future AI systems will be more capable, moving beyond chatbots to act as true assistants in various domains.
  • 🤖 The current state of AI is described as a 'parlor trick' with limited capabilities, but with significant potential for enterprise applications.
  • 📊 The diversity of AI use cases in the enterprise has been surprising, indicating a need for smarter models to meet varied demands.
  • 📉 Concerns about the novelty of AI wearing off are addressed by focusing on research and understanding how people use the technology.
  • 🤝 OpenAI's partnerships, particularly with Microsoft, are seen as crucial for market penetration and technology improvement.
  • 🎬 The potential impact of AI on creative industries like Hollywood is significant, with the aim to lower production costs and enable more content creation.
  • 🔄 Discussions around data usage, particularly with models like DALL-E, highlight the need for a content ID system for AI to respect creator rights and provide benefits.

Q & A

  • What was the state of OpenAI when Brad Lightcap joined in 2018?

    -When Brad Lightcap joined OpenAI in 2018, the company was in its early stages with no concrete product or business model. They were focused on a type of AI called reinforcement learning, which was used to train agents to excel at tasks such as playing video games.

  • How has the concept of AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) evolved since OpenAI's early days?

    -The concept of AGI has been a central mission for OpenAI since its inception. It refers to a system capable of doing most tasks, similar to human general reasoning ability. While it's an ambitious and somewhat undefined goal, OpenAI aims to create AGI that could potentially surpass human intelligence, although no one has a perfect definition of what AGI entails.

  • What are the safety concerns associated with AGI?

    -AGI raises concerns about the potential for a system with a high level of autonomy to make decisions, use tools, access the internet, and write code. The safety of such systems is a significant issue, and OpenAI has been structured with a focus on safety and broad benefit to ensure that unsafe actions are not prioritized over safe ones.

  • How does Brad Lightcap view the future of AI systems in terms of capability?

    -Brad Lightcap believes that future AI systems will become more capable and smarter, moving beyond the current chatbot-like interfaces to become more assistive and capable of performing complex tasks on behalf of users. The next systems will likely need to cross a utility and capability gap to be truly useful in the world.

  • What is the current status of GPT-5, and what advancements can we expect from it?

    -The script does not provide specific details about GPT-5, but it suggests that future releases of AI models, including GPT-5, will be significantly more advanced than current models. They are expected to be better at understanding and processing complex tasks, and to have a broader and more sophisticated range of applications.

  • How has the enterprise adoption of AI surprised the team at OpenAI?

    -The enterprise adoption of AI tools has exceeded the expectations of the OpenAI team. They have found that these tools have a wide range of applications within businesses, from understanding customer needs to creating personalized relationships and new product experiences.

  • What is OpenAI's approach to partnerships, particularly with media companies?

    -OpenAI views partnerships with media companies as an opportunity to enhance the publishing experience. They aim to help publishers communicate information more effectively to their audience by leveraging AI to understand subject matter, enhance journalistic abilities, and provide better access to data.

  • What are the challenges and opportunities in integrating AI with creative industries like Hollywood?

    -The challenges include understanding the specific needs of creative professionals and incorporating those into the AI model. The opportunities lie in reducing the cost of production, enabling the creation of more content, and potentially reviving certain genres that are considered too expensive to produce with current methods.

  • How does OpenAI plan to address the concerns around training data and content usage in AI models?

    -OpenAI is exploring the creation of a content ID system for AI that allows creators to understand where their content is going, who is training on it, and to opt in or out of training and usage. They are also looking into ways to create a new social contract with the web, ensuring that creators and publishers benefit from the use of their content in AI models.

  • What is the nature of OpenAI's partnership with Microsoft, and how do they manage the relationship?

    -OpenAI's partnership with Microsoft is based on mutual benefits. Microsoft provides the scale and systems building expertise, while OpenAI brings a fast-moving and innovative approach to AI. Despite Microsoft offering similar enterprise products, OpenAI views the market as large enough for both companies to coexist and collaborate, focusing on their respective strengths and goals.

  • What is the vision for the future of AI systems in terms of their interaction with humans?

    -The vision is for AI systems to become more integrated and assistive in people's lives, moving beyond simple question-and-answer interactions to actively assist with complex tasks and decision-making. The language and tools used to interact with AI will evolve as the technology advances, becoming more natural and intuitive.

  • How does Brad Lightcap perceive the pace of AI's impact on the economy and society?

    -Brad Lightcap acknowledges that reshaping the economy is a significant task and that it's unlikely that AI will drastically change the economy or daily jobs in a very short period. However, he is confident that over a period of 10 to 20 years, AI will diffuse through the economy, leading to significant changes and improvements in various sectors.



😀 Introduction and Transformation of Open AI

The first paragraph introduces Brad Lightcap, the COO of Open AI, who is interviewed by Shery Ahn. They discuss the early days of Open AI in 2018 when there was no product or business model. Brad shares the company's initial focus on reinforcement learning for gaming and robotics. The conversation then shifts to the advent of transformer-based AI and the ambitious goal of creating AGI, which is a system capable of doing most tasks. Brad acknowledges the potential risks and the importance of safety and broad benefit in the development of AI technologies.


🚀 AI's Future and the Evolution of Open AI's Products

In the second paragraph, the discussion revolves around the future of AI and how Open AI plans to make its systems smarter and more capable. Brad talks about the current systems being limited in their utility and the need for the next generation of AI to be truly assistive. He also touches on the diverse use cases of their technology and the importance of an iterative approach to development, learning from early deployments, and refining safety systems. The paragraph concludes with anticipation around the next release of their AI technology.


🤖 AI in Enterprise and Media Partnerships

The third paragraph delves into the enterprise applications of AI and the growth of Open AI's enterprise business. Brad highlights the surprising utility of AI in the enterprise sector and the diverse ways it's being used. He also discusses the company's role in helping businesses transition from current to future possibilities with AI. The paragraph further explores Open AI's partnerships, particularly in the media sector, and the potential for AI to enhance the publishing industry by providing more personalized experiences and better data utilization.


🎬 Hollywood and the Impact of AI on Content Creation

In the fourth paragraph, the focus is on the potential impact of AI on Hollywood and content creation. Brad shares his experiences discussing Open AI's text-to-video model, DALL-E, with industry professionals. He emphasizes the positive feedback and the opportunity to lower production costs, enabling the creation of more content. The discussion also addresses the importance of understanding the needs of creative professionals to improve the model. Lastly, Brad talks about the challenges of data usage in AI training and the need for a new social contract that benefits creators and publishers.




AI, or Artificial Intelligence, refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. In the context of the video, AI is the central theme, with discussions on its evolution, business applications, and future developments. An example from the script: 'We were focused on a very different type of AI called reinforcement learning, where you were training these agents to, basically be superhuman at any given task.'

💡Transformer-based architecture

This term refers to a type of deep learning model that uses a mechanism called 'attention' to weight the importance of different parts of input data. It is pivotal in the development of language models such as chatbots. In the video, Brad Lightcap discusses the shift from reinforcement learning to transformer-based models, which are integral to the modern AI landscape: '...which is this transformer based architecture that underpins the language models that we use every day, like chatbots.'


AGI stands for Artificial General Intelligence, which is the idea of creating a machine intelligence that can understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can do. It is a topic of debate and aspiration within the AI community. In the script, Lightcap talks about OpenAI's mission: 'Open our Eyes mission is to build AGI or artificial, general intelligence that could one day potentially surpass our own mere human intelligence.'

💡Safety and broad benefit

These concepts are central to the ethical deployment of AI technologies. Safety refers to ensuring that AI systems do not cause harm, while broad benefit implies that the technology should be used for the greater good. Lightcap emphasizes these aspects as core operational principles at OpenAI: '...where the ideas of safety and, broad benefit were very core to how we operated.'


GPT, or Generative Pre-trained Transformer, is a type of AI language model developed by OpenAI. It has the ability to generate human-like text based on a given prompt. The script mentions the anticipation for the next release, GPT-5, indicating the progression and improvements in AI technology: 'When can we expect the next release? Will we be seeing GPT five soon?'

💡Enterprise applications

Enterprise applications refer to the use of AI within businesses and organizations to improve efficiency, enhance decision-making, and create new product experiences. The script highlights the surprising utility of AI in enterprise settings: 'Good for actually has amazing, applications in the enterprise very much to our surprise.'

💡Prompt engineering

Prompt engineering is the process of carefully designing input prompts for AI models like GPT to elicit specific, desired responses. It's a skill that has become important with the advent of advanced language models. The script discusses the role of prompt engineering in interacting with AI: 'The idea, for example, is like a prompt engineer adds interesting, question to think will there be such thing as a prompt engineer in 2026 or, 2027 where you're trying to fiddle with this prompt to get it quite right?'

💡Media partnerships

Media partnerships involve collaborations between AI companies and media organizations to integrate AI technology into their products or services. The script discusses OpenAI's partnerships with media outlets like the Financial Times and DoorDash: 'And you know, most recently you've done, some deals with the Financial Times. DoorDash Meredith, which is owned by, IAC.'

💡Content ID system for AI

A Content ID system for AI would be a mechanism that allows content creators to control how their work is used in training AI models. It's a response to concerns about data privacy and the ethical use of content. The script touches on the need for such a system: '...there needs to be like a content ID system for AI that lets, creators understand as they create stuff where it's going, who's training on it, being able to opt in and out of training.'

💡Iterative deployment

Iterative deployment is the process of releasing an AI model to the public, gathering feedback, and making improvements based on real-world use and user interaction. It's a key part of developing more effective and responsible AI technologies. The script mentions this approach in the context of their text-to-video model, DALL-E: '...which is put, something out in the world, let people start to kind of appreciate what it is, have a conversation about how it might be used.'


Brad Lightcap discusses his role in transforming OpenAI from a research board to a business focused on AI technologies like reinforcement learning and transformer architecture.

OpenAI's initial focus was on mastering video games and robotics, such as teaching an AI to manipulate a Rubik's Cube.

The shift to transformer-based AI, which underpins modern language models, marked a significant turn in OpenAI's direction.

OpenAI's mission is to build artificial general intelligence (AGI) that could surpass human intelligence.

The concept of AGI is defined by OpenAI as a system capable of performing any task that it is assigned.

Brad addresses public concerns about AGI, emphasizing the potential for AI to have autonomous decision-making capabilities.

OpenAI prioritizes safety and broad benefits in its AI development, reflecting these values in its operational structure.

Anticipation and speculations around the release of GPT-5 and its potential capabilities.

Brad Lightcap remarks on the continuous improvement of AI systems, suggesting that current models are the 'dumbest' we'll ever see.

AI's role in enterprise has surpassed expectations, proving to be highly useful across various applications.

The diverse applications of AI in everyday tasks, from planning events to writing code and managing health care.

OpenAI's focus on a research-first approach, aiming to learn from how people use AI to guide future developments.

Brad discusses the growing impact of AI in the media sector, highlighting partnerships with major publishers and the integration of AI in journalism.

The conversation around the ethical use of training data and the need for a content ID system for AI.

Brad details OpenAI's collaborative efforts with Hollywood to lower production costs and increase creative output using AI.