- author, Joe Kleinman
- stock, Technical Editor, BBC
Imagine a war breaking out in the boardroom of a multi-billion dollar company creating futuristic technology capable of saving or destroying the world.
Its CEO, who has the support of world leaders, is fired by top managers who have turned against him.
It’s not a script for a Netflix series, but Last days in OpenAI.
Journalists, investors and tech fans alike are treating the events like a fictional production, although there are differences of opinion as to whether it will be a thriller or a comedy.
That’s how it started
The battle at the top of OpenAI, the company that created the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGBT, began suddenly last Friday, the board of directors announced. Co-founder and CEO Sam Altman fired.
In a blog post, the group accused Altman of being “not consistently truthful in his communications” and that he had “lost confidence” in his leadership as a result.
That team consists of just six people, two of whom are Sam Altman and another co-founder, Greg Brockman, who resigned after the former was fired.
Altman and four people closest to the company immediately sprang into action, surprising the entire tech community, including their own investors.
Elon Musk, co-founder of OpenAI, wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that he was “very concerned”.
Ilya Sutzkever, the company’s chief scientist, was a member of that committee and wrote that he “would not take such drastic measures unless he considered it absolutely necessary.”
Now Schutzkever has expressed his dismay at the decision and is one of several to sign an explosive letter to the board of directors, in which they call for the recall of Altman and Brockman. They are threatening to abandon OpenAI If this does not happen.
What caused the conflict?
What sets up this fast snowball? We don’t know yet, but some options are being considered.
There are reports that Altman is considering some hardware projects like Funding and development of an AI chip, which will be a completely different direction in OpenAI. Did he make some promises that the board was not aware of?
Or can it be reduced to more ancient and more human conflicts like money?
In a widely publicized internal memo, the board clarified that it had not accused Altman of “financial misconduct.”
But we know that OpenAI is installed A non-profit organization, that is, a company that does not intend to make money. It earns enough income to cover its own operating costs and the excess is reinvested in the business. Most charities are non-profit.
In 2019, a new branch of the company was established and it tried to make a profit. The company worked out how the two could be combined. The non-profit side will lead the for-profit side, and will be capped on the returns investors can earn.
Not everyone was happy with this, and it was said to be a major reason why Elon Musk decided to leave the company.
However, OpenAI is now in a favorable position for a large amount of money.
This week’s failed employee stock sales are said to be undervalued US$86,000 million.
Could there be pressure to give more power to the profit side of the business?
How will it end?
OpenAI is behind it General Artificial Intelligence (its abbreviation AGI in English). The fact that it isn’t there yet is both worrying and surprising.
The idea is basically that one day there will be AI tools that can do many of the tasks that humans (i.e. us) can do today, or better.
AGI has the potential to completely change the way we do things. Jobs, money, education… all these things can be done by machines. It is, or will be, an incredibly powerful phenomenon.
Is OpenAI closer to that than we think? Do you know Altman? In a more recent speech, he said that coming next year the current ChatGPT bot will look like “a fancy family member.”
I think that is unlikely. OpenAI’s new interim CEO, Emmett Shear, posted on X as “Board”. Sam was not fired due to a certain security disagreement“.
He also announced that an inquiry would be conducted into what happened.
But Microsoft, OpenAI’s biggest investor, has decided Altman won’t risk taking the technology anywhere else.
He announced that the entrepreneur will join the Seattle-based tech firm to lead a yet-to-be-formed AI research team. He will be joined by his co-founder, Greg Brockman, and will estimate the number of employees who will be posting Takes the best of OpenAI’s capabilities.
Microsoft is apparently willing to match the salary of any OpenAI employee who wants to leave the company.
Several OpenAI employees shared the same post on X, which read: “OpenAI is nothing without its people.”
Was it a warning to Sheer that he was about to hire new staff? A colleague from the BBC who was in front of the OpenAI headquarters told me that you couldn’t see people coming to work at 9:30 on a Monday in San Francisco.
Or, is it simply a reminder that even though the company is working on a form of technology that will reshape the world, it’s also a human drama?
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