Days after being fired, Sam Altman made an unexpected comeback as CEO of OpenAI late on Tuesday. This abrupt departure marked the end of a turbulent time that exposed significant divisions within the artificial intelligence industry.
After an employee revolt, the board that removed Altman from his position as CEO of the company that created ChatGPT was almost completely changed, solidifying Altman’s leadership position.
Adam D’Angelo, the CEO of the question-and-answer website Quora, is the only person still alive in the boardroom during the new Altman age.
Bret Taylor, the former co-CEO of Salesforce, and Larry Summers, the president of Harvard University and former US Treasury Secretary, will join him.
Altman will discover in Summers a prominent Washingtonian and seasoned economist who has discussed the potential benefits and drawbacks of ChatGPT for the “cognitive classes.”
Summers said earlier this year to Bloomberg News that “ChatGPT is going to replace what doctors do, hearing symptoms and making diagnoses, before it changes what nurses do.”
The Wall Street Journal said that the board may soon have up to six new members. Neither Altman nor OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman, who resigned as company president after Altman was fired, will rejoin.
Late on Tuesday, Altman posted on X, the previous Twitter platform, saying, “I love openai, and everything i’ve done over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together.”
Conflicts over exit
The five-day ordeal started on Friday when the board unexpectedly fired Altman for undisclosed reasons.
Without providing any details, the board said in a statement that Altman was let go because “he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board.”
It vigorously opposed efforts to have him return, going through two different CEOs over the course of the weekend, and then on Tuesday, three of its four surviving members were let go in order to make room for Altman’s spectacular comeback.
According to certain media sites, there were worries that OpenAI was straying rapidly from its declared goal of “building safe and beneficial artificial general intelligence for the benefit of humanity” in order to pursue business interests.
Though he did not specify the reason for Altman’s termination, OpenAI’s acting CEO Emmett Shear said in a social media post that he had been informed “The board did *not* remove Sam over any specific disagreement on safety.”
Concerns over AI governance
With his comeback, Altman solidifies his standing as a pioneer in the quickly developing area of generative AI.
However, the arrangement also underscores Microsoft’s increasing influence over OpenAI’s future.
In the course of his five days in the woods, Altman accepted a temporary job offer from the IT behemoth, which has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI and assisted in the introduction of ChatGPT, the success of which prompted a multibillion dollar competition in AI research and development worldwide.
In an X post announcing his comeback, Altman mentioned Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella when he gave his reason for going back to OpenAI: “Satya’s support.”
With a clear allusion to Microsoft, Altman said, “I’m looking forward to returning to openai and building on our strong partnership with msft.”
The most well-known large language model, or LLM, is OpenAI’s ChatGPT. However, a number of other major internet companies, like as Google and Facebook parent Meta, have made significant investments in the potent AI technology, raising questions about its governance.
In order to ease worries about the rate at which AI is developing and the absence of international controls over it, Western governments and tech corporations came to an agreement earlier this month to implement a new safety testing scheme.
At the London conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that attempts to govern AI were “playing catch-up” and that there were “possible long-term negative consequences” on everything from employment to culture.