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OpenAI opens first EU office to prepare for regulations

OpenAI will open its first EU office and make several strategic hires to prepare for regulatory headwinds.

After opening offices in San Francisco and London in June, ChatGPT plans to open its third office in Ireland, which has become a second home for many U.S. tech companies seeking to connect with European lawmakers and customers while paying less tax.

OpenAI is hiring for 9 positions in Dublin, Ireland, according to its careers page, which may indicate its current direction.

Besides payroll and customer-focused roles, the company is hiring for an associate general counsel for EMEA, a policy and partnerships lead for global affairs, a privacy program manager, a privacy-focused software engineer, and a media relations lead.

Thus, OpenAI plans to shout from the rooftops that it takes privacy seriously in Brussels.

The Europe factor
OpenAI has been criticized for ChatGPT, a generative AI chatbot that generates extensive content from simple text-based prompts. Italy blocked ChatGPT in March over data protection concerns, including illegal data processing and a lack of guardrails for minors. After privacy disclosures and controls, OpenAI relaunched ChatGPT in Italy. Spain followed quickly.

Recently, a security and privacy researcher filed a complaint with the Polish data protection authority, alleging that OpenAI was violating the bloc’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in areas such as (lack of) transparency, data access rights, lawful basis (for processing data), fairness, and privacy by design.

However, the EU AI Act will regulate AI applications based on their perceived risks. Once passed, they will be the first major AI regulations in the world and could inspire others.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman met with regulators in Europe earlier this year and warned against overregulating AI. This despite recently telling U.S. regulators that AI regulation was crucial and that an international AI regulatory body was needed.

This is why OpenAI must set up shop in the EU, even though its hiring schedule seems light compared to the EU’s might. Meta, Alphabet, and Microsoft have spent millions lobbying against European regulation, so it pales in comparison.

However, Europe will be a major hub for all AI companies, and OpenAI, one of the biggest players in generative AI, will likely expand its presence and lobbying efforts.

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