Lifetime of Achievement: Daniela Amodei

Daniela Amodei
One of the most influential people in AI today, Anthropic co-founder Daniela Amodei has had a remarkable journey in developing reliable AI systems

A leading woman in the technology industry, Daniela Amodei sidestepped into the AI sector at a pivotal moment in its development.

Since co-founding Anthropic in 2021, the company has garnered global attention and even billions of invested dollars by the likes of Amazon, SAP and Google. With this in mind, the future of the company appears bright as Amodei aims to lay the foundation for a new future of AI.

Her work is a testament to the importance of developing and harnessing transparent and ethical AI systems that prioritise the advancement of humanity.

Redefining AI: A ‘people first’ approach

Amodei did not originally come from a technology background, having attended the University of California Santa Cruz on a music scholarship. When she joined financial services company Stripe in 2013, she started in recruitment before moving to risk programme management. 

It was here that Amodei got her first experience with machine learning in a business context, working cross-functionally with machine learning, data science, engineering, legal, finance and vendor management. She helped launch the first risk vendor programme, in addition to developing fraud, credit and policy features for models.

Having left Stripe in 2018, she moved to OpenAI to oversee natural language processing and music generation teams. Her work also saw her act as Vice President of People, where she worked in recruiting, people programs, DEI and learning and development.

Having concerns that the company was commercialising AI technology too quickly, Amodei - alongside her brother and fellow Anthropic co-founder, Dario Amodei, left OpenAI in 2020. They cited that this was over disagreements regarding the safe development and governance of AI.

The siblings truly believe that AI needed to be defined in accordance with humanity - acting as a copilot, rather than something that could one day supersede society.

“Our research and safety focus was our primary emphasis,” Amodei said in an interview on how the company differs from OpenAI. “We have this view that safety is incredibly valuable and economically viable.”

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Anthropic: Ensuring a safe AI-driven society

With Anthropic, the Amodei siblings pride themselves on taking a safe and responsible approach to AI. Instead of focusing on the ‘cutting-edge’ aspect of AI models, at the heart of Anthropic’s vision is to ensure that transformative AI helps people and society flourish.

“We had this vision of really training models with humans and safety at the centre,” she says.

Co-founded by Daniela and Dario in 2021, Anthropic has gained plenty of traction in its work. Its “mechanistic interpretability” research aims to allow developers to carry out something analogous to a brain scan. This is to see what is really going on inside an AI system, instead of relying solely on its text outputs.

Anthropic announced the launch of its Claude AI assistant in March 2023, competing with OpenAI’s ChatGPT. According to the company, Claude can help with use cases such as summarisation, search, creative and collaborative writing, Q&A and coding. Early customers reported that Claude was much less likely to produce harmful outputs, easier to converse with and more steerable to the individual use case.

“What we’ve heard from our users is that Claude comes across as friendly and warm,” Amodei said. “I tend to think of Claude as a very eager junior assistant, it’s a tool that really wants to help.”

In July 2023, the company revised its model and introduced Claude 2. The hope is that Claude can be more tailored to suit a wider range of business use cases, allowing companies to better enact their digital transformation strategies. Yet, ethical AI use must remain at the centre of these efforts.

“We have aimed to make Claude as safe as possible. We have seen some improvements [in Claude 2] from Claude 1 in terms of harmlessness and honesty and helpfulness,” Amodei says.

With a continued commitment to AI responsibility and ethics, Amodei and Anthropic are at the heart of the future of AI.


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