ChatGPT-maker OpenAI fires CEO Sam Altman for lack of candor with company

ChatGPT-maker OpenAI fires CEO Sam Altman

Eric Risberg/AP

The creator of ChatGPT, Open AI, announced on Friday that Sam Altman, its co-founder and CEO, had been fired following an investigation that revealed he was “not consistently candid in his communications” with the board of directors.

The AI startup released a statement saying, “The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”

Since launching ChatGPT a year ago, Altman has become a sought-after expert in Silicon Valley on the potential benefits and risks of artificial intelligence. However, the abrupt and mostly unexplained termination of his company raised questions about the industry’s future.

OpenAI’s chief technology officer, Mira Murati, will assume the role of acting CEO with immediate effect, the business announced, while it looks for a long-term replacement.

The release also stated that Greg Brockman, a prominent executive and co-founder of OpenAI and the chairman of the board, would be leaving his position while still serving as president of the firm. Brockman, however, later remarked on X, the former Twitter, “Based on today’s news, I quit.”

When asked about Altman’s alleged lack of candor, OpenAI declined to comment. According to the statement, his actions were impeding the board’s capacity to carry out its duties.

Altman wrote on X on Friday, saying, I had a great day at Openai. It changed me personally and, hopefully, the world in some small way. Above all, I enjoyed collaborating with individuals of such skill. will discuss what comes next in more detail later.

A licensing and technology deal between the Associated Press and OpenAI grants OpenAI access to a portion of the AP’s text archives.

In 2015, Altman was involved in the founding of OpenAI as a nonprofit research lab. But it was ChatGPT’s meteoric rise to fame that made Altman a household name as the face of generative AI, a field that creates original text, images, and other forms of media. This year, while on a globe tour, he was accosted at a London event by a throng of enthusiastic fans.

He has discussed the possibilities and risks of AI over dinner with several leaders of state. Just on Thursday, in San Francisco, where OpenAI is headquartered, he participated in a CEO summit at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

According to his prediction, artificial intelligence will represent “the greatest leap forward of any of the big technological revolutions we’ve had so far.” He also emphasized the necessity of safeguards and the existential risks that might arise from AI in the future.

Critics among computer scientists claim that concentrating on hypothetical dangers diverts attention from the practical drawbacks and hazards of existing AI technologies. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has opened an inquiry to see whether OpenAI’s use of its chatbot to disseminate misleading material and scrape public data constitutes a violation of consumer protection laws.

Ilya Sutskever, chief scientist of OpenAI, and three outsiders—Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Helen Toner of the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology—make up the board, according to the business.

Microsoft, a significant investor in OpenAI that has contributed billions of dollars to the company and helped supply the processing power for its AI systems, stated that the change will not have an impact on their partnership.

“We have a long-term partnership with OpenAI and Microsoft remains committed to Mira and their team as we bring this next era of AI to our customers,” according to a statement sent by Microsoft.

Altman, now 38, has been regarded as a Silicon Valley wonder since his early 20s despite not having any formal training as an AI developer. In 2014, he was hired to become the head of YCombinator, a business incubator.

“Sam is one of the smartest people I know, and understands startups better than perhaps anyone I know, including myself,” co-founder Paul Graham of YCombinator wrote in a 2014 statement announcing Altman’s appointment as president. During that period, Altman was described by Graham as “one of those rare people who manage to be both fearsomely effective and yet fundamentally benevolent.”

When OpenAI was first established, it was a nonprofit organization supported financially by Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, among others. Its claimed goals were to “advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.”

That changed in 2018, shortly after the company released the first iteration of the GPT big language model, which mimics human writing, and incorporated a for-profit company called Open AI LP, moving almost all of its employees into the company.

Resigning from the board at around the same time, Musk had co-chaired it with Altman. According to OpenAI, this would remove a “potential future conflict for Elon” because of Tesla’s efforts to develop self-driving systems.

OpenAI’s startup under its supervision has been trying more and more to leverage its technology by catering its well-liked chatbot to corporate clients, even though the board has maintained the nonprofit governance structure.

Altman was the keynote speaker at its inaugural developer conference last week, sharing his vision for a future in which artificial intelligence (AI) assistants could assist people with a range of jobs. A few days later, he declared that ChatGPT’s premium version had reached capacity and the company would have to stop accepting new members.

Analyst Arun Chandrasekaran of Gartner stated that Altman’s departure “is indeed shocking as he has been the face of” generative AI technology.

According to him, OpenAI still has a “deep bench of technical leaders,” but its upcoming executives will need to guide it through the difficulties of growing the company and fulfilling societal and regulatory requirements.

Altman’s departure, “while sudden,” does not likely indicate more serious business issues, according to Forrester analyst Rowan Curran.

“This seems to be a case of an executive transition that was about issues with the individual in question, and not with the underlying technology or business,” Curran stated.

Altman has several options for what to do next. He bet big on a number of other audacious ventures even as the OpenAI CEO.

Among these are Retro Biosciences, which seeks to extend human life by 10 years through biotechnology, and Helion Energy, which is working on creating fusion reactors that might generate enormous amounts of energy from the hydrogen in saltwater. In addition, Altman is a co-founder of Worldcoin, a biometric and cryptocurrency initiative that uses eye-scanning technology to build a massive digital identity and financial network.

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