OpenAI CEO Sam Altman ousted over lack of candor with board

OpenAI, the nonprofit research organization dedicated to creating artificial general intelligence (AGI) that can benefit all humanity, announced on Friday that its CEO Sam Altman will step down and leave the board of directors. He will be replaced by Mira Murati, the company’s chief technology officer, who will serve as interim CEO until a permanent successor is found.

The board of directors said in a statement that they conducted “a deliberative review process” and concluded that Altman was “not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.” The board added that they “no longer have confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”

Altman, who joined OpenAI as CEO in 2019, acknowledged his departure in a post on X, a social media platform for professionals, but did not mention any accusations by the board. He said he loved working at the company and that he would talk more about “what’s next later.”

CEO Sam Altman

Who is Mira Murati?

Mira Murati is the chief technology officer of OpenAI and a member of its leadership team for five years. She has played a critical role in OpenAI’s evolution into a global AI leader, overseeing the company’s research, product, and safety functions. She also has experience in AI governance and policy, having served as a senior advisor to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under the Obama administration.

The board of directors expressed their confidence in Murati’s ability to lead OpenAI during the transition period. They said she brings “a unique skill set, understanding of the company’s values, operations, and business, and already leads the company’s research, product, and safety functions.”

Murati said in a tweet that she is “honored and humbled” to take on the role of interim CEO and that she is “committed to advancing OpenAI’s mission and vision.”

What is OpenAI’s mission and vision?

OpenAI was founded in 2015 as a nonprofit research organization with the core mission of ensuring that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity. The company defines AGI as “a highly autonomous system that outperforms humans at most economically valuable work.”

OpenAI’s board of directors consists of six members, including its chief scientist Ilya Sutskever and four independent directors who do not hold equity in the company. The board is responsible for advancing OpenAI’s mission and preserving the principles of its Charter, which outlines the company’s values and goals.

OpenAI has raised billions of dollars from Microsoft and other investors to pursue its mission. The company has also made headlines for its groundbreaking AI products, such as ChatGPT, a chatbot that can generate creative and coherent conversations from simple text inputs. The service went viral in late 2022 and has pushed big tech companies such as Alphabet and Meta to step up their investments in generative AI.

How did the AI community react?

The news of Altman’s ouster came as a shock to many in the AI community, who expressed their surprise and curiosity on social media. Some praised Altman’s contributions to OpenAI and the field of AI, while others speculated about the reasons behind his departure and the future of the company.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, whose company has a long-term partnership with OpenAI, said in a post on X that he remains “committed to our partnership, and to Mira and the team.” He did not address Altman’s departure.

Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president, said in a post on X that he “quit” after he learned about “today’s news.” He also shared the message he sent to his former OpenAI colleagues, thanking them for their work and friendship.

Some prominent AI researchers and experts, such as Yann LeCun, Fei-Fei Li, and Andrew Ng, also commented on the news, expressing their support for OpenAI and Murati, and their hope for the company’s continued success.

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