Is This the End of OpenAI as We Know it?

It is said that considerable number of top figures at OpenAI are set to depart soon.

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In a sad turn of events, OpenAI experienced a significant shake-up in its leadership last night, resulting in the abrupt removal of CEO Sam Altman, and exit of chairman of board, Greg Brockman

“Sam and I are shocked and saddened by what the board did today,” said Brockman, explaining their side of the story, and how Ilya Sutskever was behind all of this, and Mira Murati (now the interim CEO) knew about this the night before.

On a positive note, he also said that they are coming up with something great soon. 

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It is said that considerable number of top figures at OpenAI are set to depart soon.

Sam Altman, who also reposted Brockman’s statement on X, showed his heartfelt gratitude to his team at OpenAI and everyone. “I love you all,” he said, sharing his weird experience, and two cents. “One takeaway: go tell your friends how great you think they are.”

The story so far

OpenAI on Friday said that it removed Altman, following a  deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently “candid” in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. “The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI,” read the blog. 

While OpenAI’s blog remains cryptic, the root cause, however, appears to be a “misalignment” between those focused on profit and those committed to the nonprofit mission within the company. The DevDay event played a crucial role in exacerbating the situation. 

The removal of Altman also came after internal disagreements among employees regarding whether the company was sufficiently ensuring the safe development of artificial intelligence. 

Ironically, there is also rumour that Altman was caught testing GPT-4 on train data. 

After Brockman’s post, it looks like Sutskever has played a central role in this situation. He might have perceived that Altman was rushing to commercialise the software, which had evolved into a billion-dollar business, potentially overlooking safety concerns. Sadly, Andrej Karpathy remains silent. 

Under Altman’s leadership, the company’s profit-oriented approach and rapid development speed, which some perceive as too risky, clashed with the nonprofit side’s commitment to safety and caution. One person aligned with Sam referred to it as a “coup,” while another deemed it the right move.

The ongoing debate within OpenAI revolves around achieving AGI without overlooking safety concerns or focusing solely on business interests. At OpenAI’s DevDay, Sam Altman made a series of announcements specifically tailored for enterprises, with a focus on Microsoft.

As a consequence, ChatGPT experienced a major outage, suggesting a possible DDoS attack. Furthermore, OpenAI has recently temporarily suspended new sign-ups for ChatGPT Plus due to a significant surge in usage following DevDay.

Microsoft’s involvement? 

Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI, was informed of the decision to remove CEO Sam Altman just moments before it was announced to the public. Unsurprisingly, its stock has been plumbing ever since

Soon Microsoft’s chief Satya Nadella posted a generic statement that said: “We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI … Together, we will continue to deliver the meaningful benefits of this technology to the world.”

Meanwhile, interim CEO Mira Murati assured OpenAI staff that their crucial partnership with Microsoft, the primary source of funding and computing support, remains solid despite the unexpected departure of CEO Sam Altman. 

During OpenAI’s DevDay, Sam Altman put Microsoft’s Satya Nadella on the spot by asking, “How’s Microsoft thinking about the partnership?” Nadella’s first reaction was to laugh nervously.

Sadly, in the statement published by Microsoft, there is no mention of Altman anywhere or his contributions, hinting that the tech giant only cares about OpenAI  and not Altman. Ironically, Sutskever Fired Sam Altman on Google Meet, and not Microsoft Teams.

Siddharth Jindal
Siddharth is a media graduate who loves to explore tech through journalism and putting forward ideas worth pondering about in the era of artificial intelligence.

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