I don’t have anything concrete on any of these things, there’s just enough smoke that it makes me nervous. This matters because it affects to what degree you think he’s someone with integrity when assessing his public pronouncements on AI safety. (In particular, if he is the cynic I suspect he is, we should assume he’s using regulation as a cynical tool rather than an honest approach).
Caveat emptor. Most of this is based on rumors and inference, but I haven’t seen it spelt out publicly anywhere so it feels worth sharing.
SVB Equity loans
Sam was one of the biggest beneficiaries of sweetheart deals from SVB. As a high profile VC he was obviously an attractive target for SVB, from what I hear he took full advantage of this.
Iris scanning crypto project. Yikes.
Helion - Microsoft deal
This deal makes no sense to me. Why would Microsoft want to buy power years in the future from a start-up company? (Other than the fact that keeping a large investor in that company on-side)
His personal investments into OpenAI customers
Sam Altman uses his inside knowledge of OpenAI usage to invest in OpenAI clients. This conflicts him with OpenAI. (He can benefit if either OpenAI or its users capture the value from the base models where the firm can’t. Or it makes OpenAI take suboptimal decisions on who gets access to their models).