What Sam Altman’s Firing Means for the Future of OpenAI

Altman’s ouster shows that the organization aimed to align superintelligent AI with humanity, failing to align the values ​​of even its own board members and management. Adding a for-profit component to the nonprofit project made it an AI powerhouse. Product launches were supposed to generate not only profits, but also opportunities to learn how to better control and develop beneficial AI. It is now unclear whether current leaders believe this can be achieved without breaking the project’s original promise to create AGI safely.

Murati faces the challenge of convincing OpenAI’s staff and backers that it still has a viable philosophy for AI development. It must also feed the company’s thirst for cash to exploit the vast infrastructure behind projects like ChatGPT. By the time he had a pink slip, Altman was would have sought billions new investments, as part of a financing round led by Thrive Capital. The company is arguably less attractive to backers than it was just 24 hours ago. (Thrive CEO Joshua Kushner did not respond to an email.)

Additionally, anyone whose CEO nameplate includes the label “interim” will face additional obstacles in whatever they do. The sooner OpenAI appoints a permanent leader, the better.

Starting again

Whoever OpenAI’s new leader is, they appear poised to inherit a team torn apart depending on whether they stand alongside current leaders, Sutskever and Murati, or former bosses, Altman and Brockman. One of the three researchers who reportedly resigned following the putsch was research director Jakub Pachocki, a co-inventor of GPT-4– a crucial loss, and one we can expect others to follow.

OpenAI could now be at a serious disadvantage in the fierce race for AI talent. Top researchers enjoy multimillion-dollar payouts, but for the most passionate, money is a secondary consideration to the question of how to develop and deploy more powerful AI. If OpenAI is seen as a place filled with palace intrigue that gets in the way of deciding how best to create and distribute humanity’s most important invention, top talent will be reluctant to commit. Elite researchers might instead turn to Anthropic, an AI developer launched by former OpenAI employees in 2021 — or perhaps any other new projects started by Altman and Brockman.

Altman’s trajectory thus far has been that of a classic hero in the Joseph Campbell sense. From the moment I first met him, when he came to my house News week in 2007 as CEO of a startup called Loopt, he exuded a burning passion for tackling the biggest technological challenges and also a striking personal humility. When I accompanied him to London this year on his whirlwind tour to promote “human-positive” AI – while also recommending that it be regulated to avoid disaster – I saw him address the crowd , pose for selfies and even hire a few protesters to hear it. express their concerns. But I also sensed that the task was stressful, perhaps triggering one of his periodic migraines, like the one he battled during his Senate testimony.

Just last week, Altman seemed to have mastered the daunting challenges of his newfound power and notoriety. HAS OpenAI Developer Day on November 6, he was confident and meticulously rehearsed as he presented a lots of new products, claiming the ultimate perch in the technosphere: a showman unveiling mind-blowing advances in the style of Steve Jobs. It seemed Altman finally felt at home in the spotlight. But then the lights went out. Sam Altman will have to create AGI elsewhere. OpenAI may still be in the hunt, but only after picking up the pieces.

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