Sam Altman’s OpenAI Partners With Oppenheimer’s Nuclear Research Lab

OpenAI has announced a partnership with one of the U.S.’s leading national laboratories to study how artificial intelligence can be used safely in an active lab setting.

Sam Altman’s organization will work with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the New Mexico lab where Robert Oppenheimer and his team developed the first nuclear bomb as part of the Manhattan Project.

The partnership, announced in an OpenAI press release Wednesday, is intended to leverage generative AI to “multiply the speed and impact of science for good.”

Los Alamos National Laboratory
Technical Area 18 of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which houses several tons of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, and is located at the bottom of a canyon, is shown August 12, 2002 in Los…

Neil Jacobs/Getty Images

Scientists at Los Alamos will use OpenAI’s LLMs, like ChatGPT-4o, to decide where the technology can help in their research. Tasks may include introducing foreign genetic material into a host organism and cell separation, propagating cells in vitro.

“This partnership follows a long tradition of the U.S. public sector, and in particular the national labs, working with the U.S. private sector to ensure advances in innovation translate to advancements in essential areas like health care and bioscience,” the press release states.

Los Alamos is one of the 16 research and development laboratories within the U.S. Department of Energy. While best known as the birthplace of the atomic bomb, Los the lab today focuses on everything from national security, nuclear fusion, renewable energy, medicine and nanotechnology.

The partnership comes in the wake of an executive order from the White House last year that pushes for national labs to evaluate the capabilities of using AI within their biological research.

OpenAI’s technology has already been used by other leaders in bioscience. Moderna, the mRNA pioneer behind one of the Covid vaccines, is using OpenAI tools to augment clinical trial developments by adding an assistant that will analyze large data sets.

Color Health, which focuses on early cancer detection and comprehensive management, has also built a new copilot using ChatGPT-4o. The AI helps healthcare providers make evidence-based decisions about cancer screening and treatment.

“As a private company dedicated to serving the public interest, we’re thrilled to announce a first-of-its-kind partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory to study bioscience capabilities,” said Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer. “This partnership marks a natural progression in our mission, advancing scientific research, while also understanding and mitigating risks.”

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