TechOpenAI employees threaten to depart, crisis ensues for ChatGPT creators

OpenAI employees threaten to depart, crisis ensues for ChatGPT creators

Sam Altman, former chief of OpenAI
Sam Altman, former chief of OpenAI
Images source: © Getty Images | Justin Sullivan
ed. KLT

7:56 AM EST, November 21, 2023

The removal of Sam Altman, former CEO of OpenAI, hasn't been well-received by the organization's employees. In protest against the board's decision, over 500 individuals are threatening to abandon their positions.

Technology industry journalist Kara Swisher reported on Monday's tumultuous situation at OpenAI. According to her, 505 out of 700 company employees, including key figures, are considering joining a newly formed AI team established by Microsoft. At the heart of this heavy-handed move, is a call for the resignation of the current OpenAI board. Employees believe the board is intentionally sabotaging the company.

Swisher shared This information in a letter published on the X portal. The letter, signed by many OpenAI employees, harbors severe indictments against the board. The employees criticize the board's abrupt dismissal of former CEO Sam Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman. They argue that such behavior compromises OpenAI's standing as a leader in artificial intelligence and indicates board incompetency.

The letter also reveals that the board failed to provide concrete evidence to validate their accusations against Altman. The employees suggest that the board has disingenuously conducted negotiations regarding his reinstatement and even communicated to company management that an overall company dissolution would reconcile with the mission.

The employees have threatened to join a new Microsoft team led by Altman. Microsoft hired this former major partner of OpenAI, who reportedly assured all OpenAI employees of a secured position within the new project structure.

OpenAI, founded in 2015, began as a nonprofit organization to execute research and attain general artificial intelligence (AGI). The objective was to ensure AGI's safety and align its purpose with humanity's objectives. Although the organization formed a commercial entity in 2018 to attract investment, notably from Microsoft, a nonprofit board still oversees it. Operating under the original mission rather than business consideration is a key priority. The board comprises individuals who voice concerns over potential uncontrolled AI development.

Reportedly, worries regarding AI development safety incited Altman's dismissal, as conveyed by the "New York Times." The company's chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, allegedly played a significant role in this decision. However, on Monday, he expressed deep remorse over his actions and assured that he never intended to harm OpenAI.

Signatories of the employee letter included Mira Murati, who temporarily covered Altman's role, and OpenAI's co-founder, Wojciech Zaremba. Swisher reported that the letter was endorsed by 505 of the company's 700 employees.

The employees have pleaded for Altman's return to OpenAI and the board members to resign and make way for new independent directors. They've proposed Will Hurd, a former Republican congressman and ex-cybersecurity expert at the CIA, for this role. Despite having proved on the board, Hurd had ed due to his presidential campaign. However, he withdrew from the race last October after poor polling results.

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