OpenAI: New Ventures in Military Collaboration

In a significant shift, OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, has announced collaboration with the Pentagon on various software projects, including those related to cybersecurity. This announcement marks a substantial departure from the organization’s prior stance, as it had previously imposed a ban on employing its artificial intelligence technology for military purposes.

Military Engagement and Ethical Boundaries

Anna Makanju, OpenAI’s Vice President of Global Affairs, stated at the World Economic Forum, “Because we previously had what was essentially a blanket prohibition on military, many people thought that would prohibit many of these use cases, which people think are very much aligned with what we want to see in the world.” This statement underscores the organization’s revised approach towards military engagements, focusing on defensive and humanitarian applications rather than offensive military capabilities​​.

Silicon Valley’s Changing Perspective

Reflecting a broader trend in Silicon Valley, attitudes towards military collaboration have softened. The contrast is stark compared to 2018, when internal protests at Google highlighted the tech industry’s reluctance to engage with military projects. This change in stance can be attributed to various global factors, including geopolitical tensions and the pressing need for advanced technological solutions in national defense.

AI in Military Operations

In terms of AI’s integration into military operations, the potential and risks are substantial. For example, Bernard Montel, EMEA Technical Director at Tenable, expressed caution, noting, “While AI has made astronomical technological advancements in the last 12 to 24 months, allowing an autonomous device to make the final judgment is incomprehensible today. While AI is capable of quickly identifying and automating some actions that need to be taken, it’s imperative that humans are the ones making critical decisions on where and when to act from the intelligence AI provides”​​. This highlights the critical balance between leveraging AI for efficiency and ensuring human oversight in decision-making, especially in the sensitive context of military applications.

The Role of AI in Elections

Moreover, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman emphasized the organization’s commitment to ethical use of AI, particularly in relation to elections, stating, “Elections are a huge deal. I think it’s good that we have a lot of anxiety”​​. His statement reflects the company’s focus on the responsible and ethical use of AI, particularly in the context of societal impacts like elections.


As OpenAI navigates this new territory, it faces the challenge of balancing technological advancements with ethical considerations and safety concerns. The change in policy, significant in its implications for AI’s role in military applications, reopens the debate on AI safety and the ethical boundaries of its use. The evolving landscape of AI and defense collaboration highlights the critical role of ongoing discussions in shaping the future of military technology and the ethical use of AI.

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