Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the company behind the popular chatbot ChatGPT, has been dismissed by the board of directors due to disagreements over the direction and ethics of artificial intelligence (AI) development. Bloomberg and The Information reported the news on Thursday, November 16, 2023.
Internal conflicts linking Altman’s removal to the trade-off between AI safety and the speed of innovation prompted his dismissal. Some sources claim Altman advocated for faster, more ambitious projects like creating artificial general intelligence (AGI), while others state he was more cautious and concerned about the potential risks and harms of AI.
Removal of Sam Altman from OpenAI’s Board
The board, including prominent figures like Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, and Marc Benioff, decided to remove Altman after a review concluded he wasn’t consistently candid in his communications and had violated some of the company’s policies and values.
Altman, 37, joined OpenAI in 2019 after leaving the position of president at Y Combinator, an influential startup accelerator. As one of the co-founders of OpenAI, initially a non-profit research organization, Altman led its transformation into a hybrid structure, raising $1 billion from Microsoft in 2020.
Altman’s Leadership Success
Under Altman’s leadership, OpenAI achieved significant success with the development and release of ChatGPT, a chatbot using the powerful language model GPT-4. Although ChatGPT became the fastest-growing consumer application with over 100 million users in less than four months, it faced criticism for generating biased, offensive, and misleading responses, as well as potentially malicious computer code.
Addressing the need for Ethical and Responsible AI Development
Altman has not publicly commented on his firing, but he previously expressed concerns about AI’s dangers in March 2023, emphasizing the need for regulation and societal involvement in its ethical and responsible development.
The board has not announced Altman’s successor, but talks are reportedly underway with Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist and co-founder, who played a key role in the decision to fire Altman.
The firing represents a significant shake-up for OpenAI, one of the most influential and innovative companies in the AI field, prompting questions about its future direction and the broader implications of AI for society and humanity.