Palmer Luckey told Breaking Defense the ChatGPT hype is making politicians interested in AI weapons.
Luckey said people on Capitol Hill and the Pentagon had a "come-to-Jesus moment" on AI capabilities.
Luckey, who founded defense tech startup Anduril, said he's happy to leverage the interest.
The buzz around AI-powered chatbots like ChatGPT is helping politicians get more comfortable with AI – and that's been a boon for business, according to Palmer Luckey.
While Luckey may be best known as the founder of Oculus, in 2017 he created a defense tech startup called Anduril Industries. In a recent interview with Breaking Defense, Luckey said "ChatGPT has probably been more helpful to Anduril with customers and politicians than any technology in the last 10 years."
Luckey, who referred to Anduril as an "AI company," clarified to Breaking Defense that ChatGPT wasn't actually powering Anduril's products. It builds military technology including drones, surveillance towers, and underwater vehicles powered by its AI software system, Lattice.
Yet the AI hype cycle, propelled by accessible chatbots like ChatGPT, has helped those on Capitol Hill and the Pentagon have a "come-to-Jesus moment" around AI's applications to military technology, Luckey said.
"All of a sudden, you'll have congressman who will go and use ChatGPT and he'll type some stuff in and he's able to use it and he's able to see that it does things that he never imagined a computer could do," Luckey told Breaking Defense. "And then when I see him next he says, 'you know, I think I really understand what you guys were talking about with AI being a big deal, this seems like it's gonna be really important.' It sounds crazy, but it's just been so true."
An Anduril representative declined to comment futher to Insider.
The company – which has raised more than $2.3 billion from venture firms including Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund, according to Pitchbook — is among a growing fleet of smaller tech firms going up against giants like Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
By 2019, just a couple of years after launch, Anduril had contracts with more than a dozen agencies of the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, CNBC reported.
Last year, Anduril won a near-$1 billion contract with the Special Operations Command to support its counter unmanned systems, according to a blog post.
In 2020, the company won a $250 million contract from the US Customs and Border Protection to build a "virtual wall" with AI-powered surveillance technology to monitor crossings in and out of the country — a high-tech alternative to the controversial border wall proposed by former president Trump.
And Luckey has been open about his ambitions for becoming a prime contractor for the defense world, telling Breaking Defense that the company is "positioned super well" to hit that goal.
"I can't talk about the specifics, but I can tell you: there are multiple Anduril products that are selling at already larger scale than some of our products that are on our website, we've been selling them for well over a year, they're doing things that are incredibly cool," he said.
Despite Luckey's enthusiasm for Washington's growing interest in AI, others have raised concerns about its implications for military use.
Jaan Tallinn, a founding engineer at Skype and cofounder of the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk and the Future of Life Institute — which studies the existential risks of AI technologies — recently said: "Putting AI in the military makes it very hard for humanity to control AI's trajectory, because at this point you are in a literal arms race."
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