February 24, 2024


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OpenAI directors are in talks with Sam Altman about returning to the board

OpenAI directors are in talks with Sam Altman about returning to the board

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OpenAI directors are in talks with Sam Altman to allow him to rejoin the board, four days after they decided to sack him, throwing the AI ​​startup into turmoil.

Reaching an agreement to consolidate the company by bringing back its former CEO along with the remaining directors would be a compromise for both sides. More than 95 percent of OpenAI employees signed a letter this week calling on the board to resign and reinstate Altman, while three of the holdout directors remained adamant in their view that his dismissal was justified.

The option, first reported by Bloomberg, is one of a number of options being discussed by the board of the nonprofit that ultimately controls OpenAI, which stunningly fired Altman and his co-founder Greg Brockman as directors last week, according to People They have first-hand knowledge of the company. Negotiation. After being stripped of his position as chairman of the board, Brockman resigned from the company on Friday.

Employees at the company — led by CEOs Mira Moratti, Brad Lightcap and Jason Wong — threw their weight behind the co-founders and pressed the board for more detailed answers about why Altman was fired. But as of Tuesday afternoon, the two sides had not reached an agreement on the company’s future.

The departure of Altman and Brockman sparked a few days of chaos at OpenAI, which has become Silicon Valley’s most popular startup since it launched its ChatGPT chatbot a year ago, sparking a boom in generative AI.

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Ilya Sutskever, the third co-founder, was one of the four directors who voted to oust Altman. Under mounting pressure from his colleagues, Sutskever signed the letter calling on the board to reverse course and apologize on social media on Monday.

“I deeply regret my involvement in the board proceedings. I never meant to harm OpenAI. I love everything we have built together and will do everything in my power to reunite the company,” he wrote on social media platform X. Sutskever did not say whether he would step down from the board.

This led to three directors opposing Altman’s return: Adam D’Angelo, CEO of question-and-answer service Quora; technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley; and Helen Toner of the Center for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University.

The trio have come under increasing pressure from employees and investors at the for-profit OpenAI entity to explain their decision and reverse course. Two of the company’s investors described Toner as the most difficult board member to bring on board.

Toner co-authored an academic paper comparing the safety approaches of OpenAI and competitor Anthropic. Its publication in October led to a conflict between her and Altman, according to the New York Times.

OpenAI’s launch of ChatGPT in November 2022 created “race-to-the-bottom dynamics” as rivals competed, the paper said, which also cited “safety and ethics issues related to the launch of ChatGPT and GPT-4.”

In contrast, Anthropic’s decision to delay the launch of its chatbot avoided “fanning the flames of AI hype. . . . Anthropic bolstered the credibility of its commitments to AI safety by delaying its model for an early release,” the paper said.

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Before Altman’s dismissal, questions had been raised internally about whether the pace of AI development at the company was safe and about potential conflicts with the 38-year-old entrepreneur’s side projects, which range from cryptocurrencies to nuclear fission. The board has also lost confidence in Altman, according to a person familiar with their thinking.

But investors in the company said they did not know the specific reason for his firing.

Emmett Sherr, co-founder of the video streaming service Twitch, who was appointed interim CEO by the board on Sunday, also called for an independent investigation into how the decision to fire Altman was made and pledged to overhaul the company’s management.

Investors, including Microsoft, want to see management changes to protect OpenAI from a similar crisis in the future, according to several people with direct knowledge of their thinking. These changes will not be discussed until there is clarity on the narrow issue of Altman’s future at the company, one of the people said, adding that until then, “there is no one to negotiate with.”