In what is maybe the final twist to the OpenAI drama, Sam Altman is set to be reinstated as the company’s CEO.
The drama unraveled with the board announcing Altman’s removal, citing a lack of candor in his communications.
This led to a dramatic week, with Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman planning to join Microsoft, the majority of OpenAI employees signing a letter saying they’ll leave unless the board resigns, and talks of Altman and Brockman establishing a new venture.
OpenAI has confirmed an ‘agreement in principle’ to form a new board comprising Bret Taylor (former co-CEO of Salesforce), Larry Summers (former White House adviser and Harvard University President), and Adam D’Angelo (CEO of Quora).
This new board replaces the previous one, which included Tasha McCauley, Ilya Sutskever, and Helen Toner.
Despite the lack of specific reasons for Altman’s initial ouster, Brad Lightcap, OpenAI’s COO, clarified in a memo that it was unrelated to issues concerning financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices.
OpenAI is nothing without its people https://t.co/XYKLQ61e6l
— OpenAI (@OpenAI) November 22, 2023
The New York Times reported ongoing disagreements within the board over the pace of AI development and its safety, with Altman advocating for rapid progress. This is primarily speculation.
In a statement, Altman expressed his commitment to OpenAI and its partnership with Microsoft and looked forward to resuming his role. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella welcomed the changes to OpenAI’s board, which he indicated was a positive step towards effective governance.
i love openai, and everything i’ve done over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together. when i decided to join msft on sun evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. with the new board and w satya’s support, i’m…
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 22, 2023
The move has been well received within OpenAI, with executives like Mira Murati and Greg Brockman expressing support.
However, questions about the company’s governance structure remain, and what would have happened if the company was already overseeing AGI and the situation further spiraled out of control?
This marks a significant moment in tech history and highlights the complexities of governance and leadership within the rapidly evolving AI industry.
It’s sure to be debated for months to come.