The soap opera that had Silicon Valley on tenterhooks has been resolved in just one weekend. Sam Altman, co-founder and CEO of OpenAI, the company responsible for ChatGPT, was made a surprise firefighter last Friday. On Saturday, several OpenAI heavyweights left the company in response to Altman's abrupt firing. On Sunday, there was speculation that OpenAI's board was considering reinstating him after coming under pressure. On Monday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed that Altman, 38, is joining the tech giant (which, in turn, has a stake in OpenAI), where he will lead a "new advanced artificial intelligence research team."
"Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, along with other colleagues, will join Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team. We look forward to acting swiftly to provide them with the resources necessary for their success," Nadella posted on Monday morning. Brockman, until now president of OpenAI, was removed from his position on the same day that Altman was fulminated. He left the company as soon as he was informed of the change. "Based on today's news, I resign," he tweeted Friday night.
We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners. We look forward to getting to know Emmett...
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) November 20, 2023
Over the past year, Altman has been the face of the generative artificial intelligence (AI) revolution, which makes intelligent chatbots like ChatGPT possible. According to several US media outlets over the last 48 hours, the decision by OpenAI's board to dismiss Altman would have been led by a group of executives in favour of containing the potential of AI so that in the future it cannot pose a threat to humanity.
"Simply put, Sam's behavior and lack of transparency in his interactions with the board undermined the board's ability to effectively oversee the company in the manner entrusted to it," reads an internal OpenAI board memo seen by The New York Times. This is how they officially explain the "loss of confidence" in the startup's CEO until then.
I loved my time at OpenAI. it was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit. most of all i loved working with such talented people.
will have more to say about what's next later.
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 17, 2023
Nadella wants Altman to work independently within Microsoft, in an innovation lab tied to the company but less tied to its structure. The choice of Altman to head this unit contrasts with the cautions of OpenAI's board that led to the firing of the young executive. The move is interpreted as a message: Nadella wants Altman to work on AI without constraints, not to be constrained by the precautions OpenAI's board now wants to take in the development of its technology.
The one chosen to take the reins of OpenAI is Emmett Shear, former CEO of Twitch, despite the fact that the board on Friday installed Mira Murati, a longtime director of OpenAI, as interim head of the company after Altman's dismissal.
The launch of ChatGPT on November 30, 2022, suddenly put OpenAI, a previously relatively unknown company, on the map. It was known that it had among its investors Elon Musk and companies such as Microsoft. The tremendous success of the chatbot, however, led to a race among big tech companies to try to lead the development of this variant of AI.
Microsoft moved fast and announced in January 2023 the investment of 10,000 million dollars in OpenAI to strengthen its alliance with the young company, of which it was already a partner, and boost its AI business. The signing of Altman and Brockman, the heads of the startup, is the culmination of this cold absorption of OpenAI.
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