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Press Release | November 22, 2023

PRESS RELEASE: Larry Summers’ Ascent to OpenAI Board is Awful News for Humanity

CryptocurrencyFintechHack WatchLarry SummersTech
PRESS RELEASE: Larry Summers’ Ascent to OpenAI Board is Awful News for Humanity

In response to OpenAI’s announcement that Larry Summers is joining their Board of Directors, Revolving Door Project Executive Director Jeff Hauser issued the following statement:

“There is no greater indication that OpenAI is unserious about the interests of humanity than their elevation of Larry Summers to its Board of Directors. Summers energetically promotes cryptocurrency, inflation hysteria, and himself with equally misplaced ardor. 

As Revolving Door Project’s work has demonstrated, Larry Summers is an ignorant person’s idea of an economic genius and a naive person’s notion of an impartial expert. It is likely that OpenAI’s idea of intelligence is similar to that of Summers: to give forth something which appears intelligent by using the right buzzwords with an excessive amount of confidence.”

“Summers involvement raises several important questions:

  1. As our Henry Burke has observed,

Summers makes predictions with abandon, mostly using his one special trick; if you predict there’s a one-third chance of something happening you’re safe from either possibility. Either the prediction bears out, and you were right in saying it could occur, or it doesn’t pan out and you were right for saying there was a better-than-not chance of it never occurring. It’s the safety of saying there’s a 50/50 shot of something occurring without the primitive-sounding odds of a coin flip.

“Summers’ record suggests we should be awaiting his suggestion that there is a 2/3rds chance AI doesn’t destroy humanity. Or should we be reassured?”

  1. “Larry Summers has famously questioned whether there are nontrivial numbers of women as adept at high-end math as men, something that was reflected in Harvard’s hiring practices under his leadership. Will OpenAI’s all-male leadership do anything to reign in these sexist impulses or will their AI continue to reflect these prejudices?”
  2. “Larry Summers is ostensibly a professor at Harvard University, but as our research shows, he has an overwhelming number of corporate entanglements. Will Harvard continue the expensive pretense that Summers is an active member of their university?”
  3. “Larry Summers has been a prominent advocate for cryptocurrency for nearly a decade. Does this suggest that AI will be another fad that enables scams and funds terrorism while the rich prey on the non-rich?”
  4. “Summers enthusiastically backed the Clinton-era “Washington Consensus” model of neoliberal trade and development that famously has led to the rise of Trump and other right-wing nationalists across the globe due to the decline of the working class. Is Summers well suited to protecting workers from bosses seeking to undercut them with potentially cheaper and less ethical AI?”


“Summers’ ascent to the heights of AI should accelerate concerns that AI will be bad for all but the richest and most opportunistic amongst us.”

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Resources:

  • HackWatch profile of Larry Summers
  • RDP Substack, September 22, 2023, “Harvard Professor Uses This One Weird Trick To Sound Smart” by Henry Burke.
  • The Nation, March 15, 2023: “Why Is Larry Summers So Obsessed With Tech Bros?” by Max Moran.
  • RDP Substack, October 27, 2023, “Larry Summers And The Crypto Con” by Dylan Gyauch-Lewis.
CryptocurrencyFintechHack WatchLarry SummersTech

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