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One of Silicon Valley's most influential young investors, Sam Altman, is getting political

Key Points
  • Sam Altman is the leader of Silicon Valley's top start-up creator, Y Combinator.
  • He's getting politically active through a progressive policy initiative called The United Slate.
  • Areas of interest include affordable housing and AI.
Sam Altman, chief executive officer of Y Combinator, attends the second day of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 12, 2017 in Sun Valley, Idaho.
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Sam Altman says he doesn't want to run for office.

"I think I have the greatest job in Silicon Valley," said Altman, the leader of Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's most prominent start-up incubator.

"And I think there are people who will be much better than me at being politicians," he told CNBC.

Instead, Altman is hoping to spearhead change through a progressive policy initiative called The United Slate.

Altman, who won't disclose how much money he's spending on the initiative, is focusing on California and tackling issues like housing, health care and transportation. Ultimately, he hopes to recruit a slate of candidates for state offices to push forth that agenda.

Here are some of the subjects he talked about:

Soaring housing costs: Altman supports a tax on foreign buyers and wants to curb regulations that make it tougher to build more houses. Altman hopes to run a ballot initiative on housing, and says the consequences of not tackling the problem could be dire.

"I think if we don't solve the housing crisis, we will continue to perpetuate the greatest economic inequality that I have certainly ever seen," said Altman.

Sexual harassment: Poor treatment of women in Silicon Valley has made a lot of headlines lately, with high-profile examples involving Uber and 500 Startups. Altman believes in order for the culture to change, HR programs need to be emboldened to enforce rules.

"I think we need, and this sounds so obvious to say that it's almost ridiculous, we just need Silicon Valley to treat female founders with respect. That shouldn't be a controversial statement that should be absolute minimum table-stakes," said Altman. "But, you've got to enforce that so you do need channels for people to report problems they face and you do need organizations to take actions for their own programs."

Artificial intelligence: Altman's biggest passion these days is artificial intelligence. Altman co-chairs Open AI with Elon Musk and believes artificial intelligence will transform life as we know it, calling it "the most important technological development in human history." Still, he believes there needs to be safeguards in place to shield people from the risks of automation.

"It's important that that not just belong to one person and just be used for one person once. But this is something that all of us should benefit from," says Altman.

Trump: Altman — a Hillary Clinton supporter during the presidential campaign — has remained outspoken on national politics as well. Upon news of Anthony Scaramucci stepping down as White House communications director after 10 days on the job, Altman tweeted: "If you elect a reality TV star as President, you can't be surprised when you get a reality TV show."

While Altman says he stands by that tweet, he still remains hopeful during the Trump administration. "He's our president, he's my president, he's your president. I want him to succeed. I want him to well on behalf of all Americans. I do think that, you know, they will hopefully make some progress towards a more pro-growth environment. And I do think economic growth is important for the success of everybody."