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Sam Altman: What on earth is happening at OpenAI, All you have to know?

The board of directors fired Sam Altman, the co-founder and CEO of OpenAI, the company that developed ChatGPT, on Friday, igniting a brief power struggle at the top of the organization.

The board said they had “lost confidence” in Mr. Altman’s leadership and accused him of not being “consistently candid in his communications” in a blog post.


That board consists of just six members, two of whom resigned after Mr. Altman was fired: Sam Altman and his co-founder, Greg Brockman.

Greg Brockman, an OpenAI co-founder, has also departed the company.

Thus, four individuals who were well-versed in Mr. Altman and the company reached a breaking point of such gravity that they acted without delay, shocking the IT world and even, it is said, their own investors.


Elon Musk, who was also an original co-founder of OpenAI, expressed his concern in a post on X, the previous Twitter platform.


Chief scientist Ilya Sutskever of the company commented that he “would not take such drastic action unless he felt it was absolutely necessary.”

What on earth is happening at OpenAI, All you have to know?

In addition to being one of the several signatories to a powerful letter to the board of directors urging Mr. Altman and Mr. Brockman to return and threatening to quit OpenAI if the men are not reinstated, Mr. Sutskever has now acknowledged his own sorrow.


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What sparked this argument?

What then set off this snowball that was rolling quickly? Actually, we’re still unsure, but let’s explore some possibilities.


According to rumours, Mr. Altman was thinking about sponsoring and developing an AI chip, among other hardware initiatives. This would have been a very different course for OpenAI to take. Had he committed to something that the board was unaware of?


Or might it all come down to a very common and age-old source of tension: money?


The board made it clear that it was not accusing Mr. Altman of any “financial malfeasance” in an internal document, the contents of which have been extensively publicised.


However, we are aware that OpenAI was established as a nonprofit. That is, an organisation that does not seek to turn a profit. It retains enough revenue to pay for its operating expenses, with any surplus being reinvested in the company. Non-profits make up the majority of charities.


A new, profit-focused division of the company was established in 2019. The company outlined how the two would coexist. There would be a cap on the returns that investors might receive, and the non-profit side would lead the profit side.


Not everyone liked it; in fact, it reportedly had an impact on Elon Musk’s decision to leave the company.

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However, OpenAI is currently in the fortunate position of having a huge market value. The estimated value of a staff stock sale, which has not taken place today, was $86 billion (£68 billion). Is it possible that the goal was to increase the power of the business’s for-profit division?


How is this going to end?

The goal of OpenAI is artificial general intelligence, or AGI. It is a source of wonder and terror since it does not yet exist. In essence, it’s the notion that artificial intelligence (AI) systems will eventually be able to perform a variety of activities either as well as or even better than humans (that is, us) can now.


It has the power to completely change the way we do things. Education, employment, and finances are all up in the air when machines can perform tasks that humans can’t. It’s going to be an extremely powerful piece of equipment, anyway.


Does Mr. Altman know if OpenAI is closer to that than we think? He recently stated in a lecture that the ChatGPT bot that is currently in use will seem like “a quaint relative” compared to what is coming next year.


It seems unlikely to me. OpenAI’s new interim CEO, Emmett Shear, stated in a post on X that “the board did not remove Sam over any specific disagreement on safety”.


He promises that the incident will be looked into.

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However, Microsoft, the largest investor in OpenAI, has made the decision not to risk that Mr. Altman may take this technology elsewhere. It has been revealed that he will be joining the IT behemoth based in Seattle to take the helm of an as-yet-unnamed AI research team.

Along with him is his co-founder, Greg Brockman, and based on the number of employees that have posted on X today, it appears that he will be bringing along some of OpenAI’s best personnel.

Numerous OpenAI employees are sharing the identical post on X. “OpenAI is nothing without its people,” it says.

Is that a hint to Mr. Shear that he may need to make some hires? There was no evidence of workers arriving for work at 09:00 in San Francisco, according to a BBC colleague who was outside OpenAI’s headquarters.


Or is it merely a reminder that, despite the fact that this story has revolved around a technology that is changing the globe, it is fundamentally a drama about people?


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