In a dramatic shakeup at artificial intelligence pioneer OpenAI, the organization said chief exec and co-founder Sam Altman is exiting after its board lost confidence in his “ability to continue leading OpenAI.”
San Francisco-based OpenAI is a private research lab that develops AI, founded in 2015 as a nonprofit organization by Altman, Elon Musk (who is no longer on the board of OpenAI) and others.
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With Altman’s exit, CTO Mira Murati will assume the role of interim CEO while a replacement is sought. In addition, the company said, OpenAI president Greg Brockman was stepping down as chairman of the board and was to remain in his role at the company, reporting to the CEO. However, after Altman’s firing, Brockman announced that he was resigning.
“Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities,” OpenAI said in a statement Friday. “The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”
In a statement, 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. As the leader of the company’s research, product and safety functions, Mira is exceptionally qualified to step into the role of interim CEO. We have the utmost confidence in her ability to lead OpenAI during this transition period.”
OpenAI’s board of directors consists of OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever and independent directors Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner, director of strategy and foundational research grants at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET).
After his dismissal was announced, Altman posted on X, “i loved my time at openai. it was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit. most of all i loved working with such talented people. will have more to say about what’s next later.”
Brockman a few hours later posted what he said was a message to OpenAI employees about his resignation. “i’m super proud of what we’ve all built together since starting in my apartment 8 years ago. we’ve been through tough & great times together, accomplishing so much despite all the reasons it should have been impossible. but based on today’s news, i quit. genuinely wishing you all nothing but the best. i continue to believe in the mission of creating safe AGI that benefits all of humanity.”
OpenAI introduced the first publicly available version of ChatGPT in November 2022, capturing the public’s imagination of what generative AI could be — as well as setting off alarm bells among many creative professionals. The chatbot is able to generate seemingly coherent texts on a wide range of topics while it has on occasion been shown to entirely make things up.
This summer, the FTC launched an investigation into OpenAI, looking into whether it “engaged in unfair or deceptive privacy or data security practices or engaged in unfair or deceptive practices relating to risks of harm to consumers, including reputational harm.” Among the info the FTC requested from OpenAI was a “description of any refining the company actually undertook in order to correct or remediate any Large Language Model’s propensity to ‘hallucinate’ or to reveal any Personal Information,” according to a letter from the agency.
Separately, OpenAI is facing various legal challenges. Those include a group of 17 writers, including George R.R. Martin, John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, George Saunders and Jonathan Franzen, suing OpenAI for allegedly stealing their copyrighted works to train ChatGPT; a lawsuit filed on behalf of Sarah Silverman and other authors making similar allegations; and a defamation lawsuit filed by a talk show host, who alleged ChatGPT invented false legal claims against him.
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