Who could have expected to see the CEO of OpenAI, the creator of DALL-E 3, ChatGPT, and GPT-4, Sam Altman, get fired last Friday? Honestly, if GPT-5 had been announced, I would have been less surprised. So, let us uncover what happened over the last couple of days.
How Things Occurred
Last Friday afternoon, on the 17th of November, Sam Altman’s firing from OpenAI was publicly announced on this blog post by OpenAI. Especially in the post, we understand that the reason Sam Altman was fired was that he did not align with OpenAI’s values and business. The following quotes from the post imply that there was a conflict between the board’s vision for safe and open AI and Altman’s priorities. In some way, they did not like how he was hiding some aspect of his personal financial return at the expense of the company’s vision. Additionally, before Altman’s firing from OpenAI, his speeches all around the world were not aligned with the vision of “AI for research”.
“She brings … understanding of the company’s values, operations, and business … including her experience in AI governance and policy.”
“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.”
“The majority of the board is independent, and the independent directors do not hold equity in OpenAI. While the company has experienced dramatic growth, it remains the fundamental governance responsibility of the board to advance OpenAI’s mission and preserve the principles of its Charter.”
After Altman’s firing from OpenAI on November 18, Greg Brockman, the co-founder and president of OpenAI, announced his resignation from the company. After that, three senior OpenAI researchers resigned after Brockman, including the director of research, Jakub Pachocki, and the head of preparedness, Aleksander Madry.
Investors Pushing for Altman’s Return
Investors—furious at the turn of events—are reportedly exerting pressure on OpenAI’s board to reinstate Altman. Most employees and other stakeholders (Microsoft, venture capitalists, etc.) were left entirely in the dark about Altman’s firing.
Moreover, Altman has been telling investors that he is planning to launch a new venture; it is quite possible that Altman would put everything in the past and, together with the investors and his followers, start his own AI company. Brockman, after resigning from his position at OpenAI, is also expected to join the effort. It is suspected that it is possibly an AI chip startup, which aligns with Altman’s views of for-profit AI.
Currently, there is no news about Altman’s firing from OpenAI. Everyone—including investors, employees, stakeholders, and us, the users—is waiting for an explanation of this sudden event. The latest news is that Altman and Brockman are in discussions with OpenAI’s board about returning Altman as CEO. With every new piece of information, I will update this post. Until then, wait for Sir Potata and me to use generative AI to create some really good things and also some really stupid things.
For Further Reading
- Sam Altman is leaving OpenAI: A big Reddit thread about Altman’s firing from OpenAI
- whywassamfired.com: A website with the latest news about Altman’s firing
- OpenAI board in discussions with Sam Altman to return as CEO: A post from the Verge about the discussions surrounding Altman’s return as CEO