Recently, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman spoke at the Economic Times Conversations event in Delhi, where Rajan Anandan, the previous CEO of Google India inquired about his advice on how Indians could develop something akin to ChatGPT in India. He said, “Sam, we have a very vibrant ecosystem in India, but specifically focusing on AI, are there spaces where you see an Indian startup building foundational AI models? How should we think about that?”
“Where is it that a team from India, with three super-smart engineers, having not 100, but USD 10 million each, could actually build something truly substantial?” he added.
Sam responded by adding that while one could attempt to construct something similar in India, it would be “pretty hopeless.” During the interview, the CEO of OpenAI said, “We’re going to teach you how this works. Competing with us in the area of training foundation models is just futile. Even though you shouldn’t try, it’s your responsibility to enjoy trying. And I firmly believe both of those. It seems rather hopeless to me.”
After that, Anandan tweeted a clip of the exchange with the comment, “Thank you Sam for the clear answer. As you said, ‘it is hopeless, but you will try anyway.” 5000 years of Indian entrepreneurship has shown us that we should never underestimate the Indian entrepreneur. We do intend to try.” Even though Anandan responded positively to Altman’s response, Twitter users weren’t as kind to the OpenAI CEO. Social media soon became a hive of activity as netizens discussed Altman’s statement.
When Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani interpreted Altman’s statement as a “challenge,” the video attracted even more attention. “OpenAI founder Sam Altman said it’s pretty hopeless for Indian companies to try and compete with them,” he commented on Twitter after sharing the video. “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED,” he added.
The CEO of OpenAI responded to Gurnani’s tweet on Saturday, claiming that the question he was given was the incorrect one and that his response had been taken out of context. He tweeted, “This is really taken out of context! The question was about competing with us with $10 million, which I really do think is not going to work. But I still said try! However, I think it’s the wrong question.”
He later added, “The right question is what a startup can do that’s never been done before, that will contribute a new thing to the world. I have no doubt Indian startups can and will do that! And no one but the builders can answer that question.”