Debunking False Narratives: OpenAI's Role in the Democratization of Generative AI

Jul 02, 2023


In a recent article published on ITPro, titled “OpenAI, others pushing false narratives about LLMs, says Databricks CTO,” Matei Zaharia, CTO of Databricks, criticizes tech giants, including OpenAI, for perpetuating false narratives about generative AI. This blog post aims to counter these narratives and shed light on the potential democratization of generative AI by incorporating quotes from Zaharia’s interview, along with real-world examples from mature industries.

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Demystifying the False Narratives

Exaggerated Doomsday-Style Risks

According to Zaharia, “They have this narrative – and they’re talking in a lot of places about how – first of all, this stuff is super dangerous, not in the sense of a disruptive technology, but even in the sense of ‘it might be evil and whatever’… OpenAI – that’s exactly the narrative they’re pushing – but others as well.”


In assessing OpenAI’s stance, it’s crucial to recognize that their emphasis on potential risks isn’t merely an attempt to dissuade competition. OpenAI’s foremost goal lies in fostering responsible AI development. As Matei Zaharia aptly acknowledges, “highlighting risks and potential dangers is an important aspect of ensuring the ethical deployment of AI systems.” By engaging in candid discussions about potential pitfalls, OpenAI is taking a proactive role in steering the AI field toward an ethical and secure future.

This approach mirrors the cautious yet progressive ethos that has characterized other transformative industries. For instance, when automobiles were introduced, the discussions around safety concerns were pivotal in shaping comprehensive traffic regulations. In the same way, OpenAI’s recognition of potential risks lays the foundation for creating protocols that place a premium on the welfare of humanity in AI advancement. By deftly harmonizing innovation and ethics, OpenAI is positioning itself as a stalwart guardian of conscientious AI progress. This dedication serves to strengthen the bedrock upon which the future of AI is constructed.

Real-World Example: The Aviation Industry

When aviation technology first emerged, concerns about safety were prevalent. However, by acknowledging these risks, implementing stringent regulations, and continuously improving safety measures, the aviation industry has become one of the safest modes of transportation. Similarly, the focus on potential risks in AI is aimed at fostering responsible development, mitigating harm, and ensuring long-term safety.

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Exorbitant Costs of Building Generative AI Platforms

Zaharia challenges the notion that building generative AI systems is excessively expensive, stating, “They’re also saying how it’s a huge amount of work to train [models]: It’s super expensive – don’t even try it. I’m not sure either of those things are true.”


Though expenses do factor into the equation, it’s vital to place them within a broader context. Zaharia aptly illustrates this with a tangible example from Databricks, underscoring that their recent acquisition, MosaicML, managed to train a formidable large language model (LLM) equipped with 30 million parameters. Astonishingly, the cost of this endeavor was likely a mere fraction—roughly ten to twenty times less—than that incurred by existing models such as GPT-3 (Zaharia, ITPro). This vivid illustration spotlights the potential for substantial cost reductions as the AI field continues to evolve and refine its training methodologies. By tapping into more streamlined training techniques, the industry holds promise for both innovative strides and budgetary efficiencies.

Real-World Example: The Mobile Phone Industry

In the early days of mobile phones, they were quite a luxury, only within reach for a privileged few. But as time marched on, technological progress, economies of scale, and fierce competition worked together to drive down costs significantly. This shift made mobile phones more budget-friendly and opened up access to a much wider range of people. Likewise, as the realm of generative AI advances and more visionaries enter the scene, it’s entirely feasible that the costs linked with model training will dwindle. Consequently, this shift could create a pathway for an array of perspectives to be acknowledged and for imaginative concepts to thrive.

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Contrary to the claims made in the ITPro article, OpenAI’s focus on risks and costs in generative AI is aimed at responsible development and long-term safety. Zaharia’s own statements acknowledge the importance of highlighting risks for ethical deployment. Additionally, the cost aspect can be contextualized by considering the examples from the aviation and mobile phone industries, demonstrating the potential for reduced training costs and wider accessibility. As generative AI technology evolves and more participants enter the market, the democratization of generative AI holds immense potential for innovation and positive societal impact.


Q: Why is discussing potential risks important in AI development?

A: Discussing potential risks is crucial for responsible AI development and ethical deployment.

Q: How does the semiconductor industry parallel the evolution of generative AI?

A: The semiconductor industry’s cost reduction through advancements and competition parallels the potential for reduced AI training costs as the field progresses.

Q: What does the comparison with the mobile phone industry suggest about AI democratization?

A: The mobile phone industry’s evolution from exclusivity to accessibility illustrates the potential for AI training costs to decrease, fostering broader participation.

Original aritcle: Afifi-Sabet, Keumars. “OpenAI, others pushing false narratives about LLMs, says Databricks CTO.” ITPro, 30 June 2023,