18 November 2023

Headline of the Day

Control Altman Delete
The Register on the firing of Sam Altman as CEO of OpenAI.

The reason for his defenestration is that he was not, "Consistently candid in his communications."

I'm not sure exactly what went down there, but I think that the board, technically the board of the non-profit OpenAI which owns the for-profit OpenAI Global, LLC subsidiary fired him.

It appears that Altman's goals, which appear to be self-aggrandizement and wealth, ran counter to the stated goals of the not-for-profit:

OpenAI's board of directors just fired CEO Sam Altman for not being "consistently candid in his communications."

CTO Mira Murati has been appointed as the interim CEO to lead the lab in the meantime as the board finds a new boss.

In a statement Friday, the board of directors said: "OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity. The board remains fully committed to serving this mission. We are grateful for Sam's many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward."

Altman, an OpenAI co-founder, was ousted after the board carried out a probe and concluded he had not been completely honest and forthright in his conversations with the directors, leading to a lack of confidence in his abilities to continue as CEO.

The move comes as a shock. Launched in 2015 as a not-for-profit focused on fostering artificial general intelligence with the short-lived backing of Elon Musk and a culture of openness, Altman transformed the upstart into a secretive for-profit biz. A number of OpenAI staffers later hit eject, and got together to form rival AI lab Anthropic, we note.


Under Altman, the startup's valuation catapulted as it attracted billions of dollars from investors. Its largest backer Microsoft splashed what is believed to have been $10 billion on a deal with OpenAI that gave the IT titan a 49 percent stake in the upstart, and at one point the lab was valued at $29 billion.

At the same time, Microsoft has been keen to slap its own branding over OpenAI's technology as the Windows and Azure giant integrates the lab's neural networks into every corner of its products and services, from Bing to Windows. And at one point even labeled ChatGPT as a security risk.

Altman's sudden exit comes just as OpenAI talked up its app-store-like marketplace for applications built on top of its AI chatbot ChatGPT.


Perhaps it had to do with Altman constantly crying about the potential for AI to destroy society – fears some experts have said are overblown – and heralding a general form of artificial intelligence no one in their right mind would want.

Perhaps there was tension over the for-profit, commercialized direction the super-lab was heading as opposed to its not-for-profit roots.

Yeah, the board was not to enthusiastic about having this grandstanding tech bro making outlandish claims which would serve to undercut their stated mission.



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