Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, takes a break during the New Work Summit in Half Moon Bay, California, U.S., Monday, February 25, 2019.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

In just two days, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman appeared to do a 180 on his public views on European regulation of artificial intelligence — first threatening to cease operations in Europe if regulation crossed a line, then reversing his claims and now says the company has “no plans to leave.”

On Wednesday, Altman spoke to reporters in London and outlined their concerns on the European Union’s AI law, due to be finalized in 2024, the Financial Times reported.

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“The details really matter,” Altman reportedly said. “We will try to comply, but if we cannot comply, we will cease operations.”

Initially, the legislation – which may be the first of its kind in terms of AI governance – was drafted for “high-risk” uses of AI, such as in medical devices, employment and lending decisions.

Now, amid the generative AI boom, lawmakers have proposed expanded rules: Makers of big machine learning systems and tools like big language models, the kind that power chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard and more, would have to disclose AI-generated content and publish summaries of any copyrighted information used as training data for their system.

OpenAI attracted criticism to not disclose methods or training data for GPT-4, one of the models behind ChatGPT, after it was released.

“The current draft of the EU’s AI law would be over-regulatory, but we have heard that it will be withdrawn,” Altman said on Wednesday in London. according to Reuters. “They still talk about it.”

Legislator told Reuters the draft was not up for debate, and Dragos Tudorache, a Romanian member of the European Parliament, said he “doesn’t see any dilution happening anytime soon.”

Less than 48 hours after his initial comments about the potential shutdown, Altman tweeted about a “very productive week of conversations in Europe about how best to regulate AI,” adding that the OpenAI team is “excited to continue operating here and, of course, have no plans to leave.”

The newer proposal for the EU’s AI law will be negotiated between the European Commission and member states in the coming year, the FT reported.

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