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 lab to a business entity. He highlights their focus on artificial general intelligence (AGI) and the importance of safety and broad benefit in their mission. Lightcap also addresses concerns about AGI's potential risks and outlines the iterative approach they are taking to refine their technology. He shares insights into the enterprise applications of AI, the diversity of use cases, and the company's partnerships, particularly with media and Microsoft. Lightcap also touches on the potential impact of AI on the creative industry, referencing their text-to-video model, DALL-E, and the need for a new social contract with content creators as AI technology evolves.


  • 😀 Brad Lightcap joined OpenAI as CFO in 2018 when the company had no clear product or business model.
  • 🤖 Early AI research at OpenAI focused on reinforcement learning and superhuman gaming capabilities, like beating top Dota players.
  • 🚀 The introduction of transformer architectures marked a significant pivot towards language models and broader AI applications.
  • 🌐 OpenAI's mission is to develop AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) that could potentially surpass human intelligence, emphasizing safety and broad benefits.
  • 🔍 Continuous refinement of safety systems and user feedback are crucial as OpenAI deploys technology like GPT models.
  • 📈 Brad hints at the upcoming release of more advanced models, suggesting that today's models are just the beginning of what AI will eventually achieve.
  • 🤝 OpenAI values learning from how businesses use their technology, which informs improvements and future developments.
  • 🛠️ The growth in enterprise adoption has been surprising, showing significant utility of AI tools in various industries.
  • 📰 OpenAI is actively engaging with the media industry to explore how AI can enhance information dissemination and journalistic practices.
  • 🎬 Discussions in Hollywood explore AI's potential to reduce production costs and enable more creative projects.

Q & A

  • What was Brad Lightcap's initial role when he joined OpenAI in 2018?

    -Brad Lightcap initially joined OpenAI as the CFO in 2018 when the company was in its early stages and had yet to establish a product or business model.

  • What type of AI was OpenAI focused on before the advent of transformer-based models?

    -Before the advent of transformer-based models, OpenAI was focused on reinforcement learning, which involved training AI agents to be superhuman at specific tasks such as playing video games.

  • What is the mission of OpenAI?

    -OpenAI's mission is to build artificial general intelligence (AGI), which is a system capable of doing most tasks, similar to human general reasoning ability, and potentially surpass human intelligence.

  • How does Brad Lightcap describe the public's perception of AGI?

    -Brad Lightcap acknowledges that AGI is an ambitious goal and that it can be perceived as scary due to the idea of a system with agency and autonomy that can make decisions, use tools, access the internet, and write code.

  • What is OpenAI's approach to ensuring the safe development and deployment of AI?

    -OpenAI was formed with a mission-oriented approach, prioritizing safety and broad benefit. They aim to understand how people use the technology at an early scale and refine their safety systems and techniques based on real-world usage.

  • What is the timeframe for the next release of OpenAI's language model?

    -The specific timeframe for the next release is not mentioned in the transcript, but Brad Lightcap does discuss the continuous improvement of their systems, suggesting that advancements are expected in the future.

  • How does Brad Lightcap view the current state of AI systems in comparison to future developments?

    -Brad Lightcap believes that current AI systems are the 'dumbest' they will ever be, implying that future systems will be significantly more advanced and capable.

  • What are some of the enterprise applications of AI that have surprised OpenAI?

    -The enterprise applications of AI have surprised OpenAI with their utility and adoption in businesses, helping companies understand their customers, create personalized relationships, and leverage their data in ways that were not previously possible.

  • What is OpenAI's strategy for growing its enterprise business?

    -OpenAI's strategy involves taking a research-first perspective, focusing on learning how people use the technology and making the model smarter. They aim to act as 'Sherpas', guiding users from current possibilities to future capabilities.

  • What are some of the media partnerships that OpenAI has established or is working on?

    -OpenAI has established partnerships with media companies like the Financial Times, DoorDash, and Meredith, which is owned by IAC. They are also in talks with dozens of other publications to integrate their technology into various aspects of the media industry.

  • How does Brad Lightcap perceive the role of AI in the creative process, particularly in Hollywood?

    -Brad Lightcap sees AI as a tool that can enhance the creative process by reducing the cost of production, allowing for more content to be created, including genres that are currently underrepresented due to high production costs.

  • What is OpenAI's stance on the use of data for training their models?

    -OpenAI acknowledges the importance of understanding the data sources used for training their models. They are exploring the creation of a content ID system for AI that would allow creators to opt in or out of training and usage, and potentially benefit from the economic opportunities presented by AI.



🎤 Introduction and Transformation of Open AI

Brad Lightcap, the COO of Open AI, discusses the early days of the company in 2018, when it lacked a clear product or business model. Initially focused on reinforcement learning and applications like gaming and robotics, the company's direction shifted dramatically with the advent of transformer-based AI architectures. These advancements paved the way for the development of AI systems like chatbots. Lightcap highlights the transition from a research-oriented approach to a viable business model, underpinned by the potential of modern AI and the goal of achieving Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). He addresses public concerns about AGI, emphasizing Open AI's mission-oriented approach to prioritize safety and broad benefits in the development and deployment of AI technologies.


🚀 Advancements and Future Prospects in AI

Brad Lightcap elaborates on the ongoing and future improvements in AI systems, describing current AI as the 'dumbest' it will ever be, indicating significant advancements are expected. He emphasizes the limited capabilities of current systems and the potential of future models to be more assistive and capable, transitioning beyond simple chatbots to more dynamic roles. Lightcap discusses the unforeseen enterprise applications of AI, the diversity of use cases, and the challenges of enhancing AI capabilities. He foresees a major role for AI in understanding and executing complex, real-world tasks, reflecting on the rapid growth and impact of AI in enterprise settings.


🌐 AI's Role in Business and Media Partnerships

Brad Lightcap discusses the impact of AI on businesses, focusing on how AI helps companies understand their customers and create personalized experiences. He highlights Open AI's partnerships, particularly in the media sector, with organizations like the Financial Times and discusses potential expansions. Lightcap describes AI's ability to enhance journalism and audience engagement. He also touches on recent explorations into Hollywood, where AI could reduce production costs and democratize content creation. Concerns about data use and the need for a content ID system for AI were discussed, emphasizing the ethical use of data in AI development.


🤝 Open AI's Collaboration with Microsoft and Industry Impact

Brad Lightcap wraps up by discussing Open AI's strategic partnership with Microsoft, highlighting the benefits and challenges of collaborating with a partner who is also a competitor. He outlines the importance of such partnerships in achieving significant economic impacts through AI technology. Lightcap expresses optimism about the future of AI, its role in transforming various industries, and the ongoing contributions of Open AI to these developments. The session ends with Lightcap reaffirming the company's commitment to continuous improvement and collaboration in the AI field.




Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the field of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. In the video, AI is the central theme, with discussions on its business applications, transformative potential, and future developments.

💡Transformer-based architecture

This refers to a type of deep learning model that uses a mechanism called 'attention' to weigh the importance of different parts of the input data. It is fundamental to modern AI, particularly in natural language processing. In the context of the video, it underpins the language models used in chatbots and other applications.

💡Reinforcement learning

Reinforcement learning is a type of machine learning where an agent learns to behave in an environment by performing actions and receiving rewards or penalties. It was a focus at OpenAI in its early days, where they applied it to tasks such as playing video games and manipulating objects with robots.

💡Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

AGI refers to highly autonomous systems that can outperform humans at most economically valuable work. It is a goal for AI development, aiming to create systems with general reasoning abilities. In the video, Brad Lightcap discusses the ambition and the challenges associated with achieving AGI.


Chatbots are computer programs designed to simulate conversation with human users. They are an application of AI and are mentioned in the video as a common use of the transformer-based architecture that powers modern language models.

💡Enterprise adoption

Enterprise adoption refers to the process by which businesses start to use a particular technology in their operations. In the context of the video, it is surprising how much AI has been adopted in the enterprise, indicating its utility and potential impact on business operations.

💡Iterative deployment

Iterative deployment is a strategy where a product or technology is released to users, feedback is collected, and improvements are made in subsequent iterations. The video discusses this approach in the context of AI models, emphasizing the importance of user feedback and continuous improvement.

💡Prompt engineering

Prompt engineering is the process of carefully designing the input to an AI model to elicit the desired response. It is a current practice in interacting with AI systems and is mentioned in the video as a potential area of focus for future roles or tasks.

💡GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer)

GPT is a type of AI language model that is pre-trained on a large dataset and can generate human-like text. The video discusses the evolution of GPT models and expectations for future versions, such as GPT-5, in terms of their capabilities and applications.

💡Content ID system

A Content ID system is a digital rights management technology that identifies copyrighted material. In the video, the need for a similar system for AI is discussed, where creators can opt in or out of having their content used to train AI models, reflecting the importance of ethical data usage in AI development.


Partnerships are collaborative agreements between different entities. In the video, Brad Lightcap talks about the importance of partnerships in growing the business and integrating AI technology into various sectors, such as media and enterprise solutions.


Brad Lightcap discusses the transformation of OpenAI from a research board to a business-focused on AI development.

OpenAI's shift from reinforcement learning to transformer-based architectures marked a significant evolution in their approach to AI.

The transition to language models and transformers opened new business avenues beyond gaming and robotics.

Brad highlights the challenges and opportunities of developing AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) and its potential impact.

Discussion on the ethical considerations and safety measures OpenAI implements as it develops more advanced AI systems.

The role of iterative deployment in refining AI technologies and ensuring their safe integration into society.

Expectations and future directions for the next release of OpenAI's models, including potential capabilities and impacts.

Lightcap's insights on how AI currently serves as an enterprise tool, surprising the developers with its utility.

Exploration of AI's role in diverse fields from gaming to health management, showcasing its broad utility and adaptability.

OpenAI's focus on partnerships, particularly in the media sector, aiming to enhance information dissemination and engagement.

The potential of AI to revolutionize content production in publishing and other media forms.

Brad discusses OpenAI's engagement with Hollywood to potentially lower production costs and increase creative output.

OpenAI's careful approach to data usage and training, emphasizing the need for a content ID system for AI.

The strategic partnership with Microsoft, focusing on leveraging each other's strengths to advance AI technology.

Lightcap's perspective on the future of AI, emphasizing continuous improvement and the unexplored potential of smarter systems.