Unlike Elon Musk, OpenAI's Sam Altman has 'no desire' to live on Mars — but he would consider sending robots there

Unlike Elon Musk, OpenAI's Sam Altman has 'no desire' to live on Mars — but he would consider sending robots there
In a talk at University College London last week, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said he has no interest in living on Mars, but he wants to send robots there.Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
  • OpenAI CEO Sam Altman says life of Mars "sounds horrible" and he has "no desire" to live there.
  • It would be better, he added, to send robots to the Red Planet first to "spruce it up."

OpenAI's Sam Altman may be behind a wave of technology that looks like something from a sci-fi movie — but he wouldn't go so far as to live on Mars.

At a talk last week at University College London, Altman — the cofounder and CEO of OpenAI, which made ChatGPT — was asked if artificial intelligence could help establish human life on Mars.

"I have no desire to go and live on Mars — it sounds horrible," he said.

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"If we can send robots first and we can spruce it up a little bit that seems much better," he added. "But I think Earth is really quite wonderful."

Altman's views on Mars are in stark contrast to those of fellow OpenAI cofounder and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who has said he wants to send one million people to the Red Planet by 2050 and that he'd personally consider going to Mars when he's older.


"I think there's some non-trivial chance of dying, so I'd prefer to take that chance when I'm a bit older, and see my kids grow up," he told the Financial Times last year regarding when he'd make the interplanetary journey. "Rather than right now, where little X is only two-and-a-half. I think he'd miss me."

Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla, has also considered the possibility of sending robots to Mars.

In 2021, he said Tesla's humanoid robot would "hopefully" be mass-produced to work in dangerous conditions on Mars. Musk said the robot was Tesla's most important project in 2022 and could eventually be "more significant" than its electric vehicle business. While the company has only unveiled prototypes of the robot, it doesn't yet have a release date.

Musk joined Altman and others in cofounding OpenAI in 2015, but he stepped down from its board in 2018, citing a potential conflict of interest with Tesla's work on artificial intelligence. Musk later said disagreements with OpenAI's team were another factor in his decision to leave, and he's been a vocal critic of OpenAI since his departure.