There has been a massive backlash following Sam Altman’s removal as the CEO of OpenAI, the company behind the revolutionary ChatGPT. Several employees have threatened to quit if Altman is not reinstated by the end of the week.
Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president, had also quit after Altman was ousted abruptly and without explanation by the board.
Khosla Ventures, a promoter of OpenAI and an Altman loyalist, has demanded the return of Altman to the board, promising to back him in whatever venture Altman undertakes next.
There have been discussions of Sam starting a new AI venture or even returning to OpenAI. However, there are not many details available on the matter, and things are in ambiguous territory right now.
Reportedly, Jony Ive, Apple’s former design chief, and Altman have been discussing the possibility of groundbreaking AI hardware, details of which remain undisclosed as of now.
However, Altman seems to have a loyal base of employees and professionals who are putting constant pressure on OpenAI to take back their decision.
Microsoft, OpenAI’s biggest investor, seems to be in damage control mode, as it is pondering a possible Altman reinstatement as it fears a mass exodus of its valuable talent pool.
Altman’s Role in AI Advancements
Sam Altman has been the face of OpenAI ever since it launched its revolutionary ChatGPT last year. The AI model has seen various upgrades since its launch, with the ChatGPT-4 Turbo being the latest one. With ChatGPT, AI reached the general public as various industries saw an increasing use of AI tools.
However, unlike other tech giant CEOs, Sam focuses on “responsible AI usage”, which is why OpenAI was initially a non-profit venture. It later made a subsidiary with capped profits to offer limited returns to investors.
CTO Mira Murati is temporarily overseeing OpenAI matters as CEO for the moment.
Sam had also voiced his concerns over the unchecked growth of AI and proposed forming a committee to oversee AI developments, similar to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed this suggestion with open arms.
The hasty removal of Altman with ambiguous explanations like he “wasn’t consistently candid in his communications” raises doubts about the intention of the OpenAI board members.
While some people speculate that this has to do with the recent DDoS attack on OpenAI, the matter seems to be far more complicated than that.
The board said that it had lost confidence in Altman’s capabilities as a CEO. However, it is worth noting that the OpenAI board consisted of just six members.
Apart from Sam and Greg, Ilya Sutskever — OpenAI co-founder Tasha McCauley, Adam D’Angelo, and Helen Toner form the board. Thus, in essence, it seems like four members were not satisfied with how Altman operated — an incident that is enough to raise eyebrows across the industry.
Although things are not certain now, Altman seems to have amassed massive support following his removal. It will be interesting to see how OpenAI and Microsoft weather this storm if they manage to do so.