The board of OpenAI, one of the leading players in the currently booming artificial intelligence sector, just fired its celebrity CEO, Sam Altman, and we may not know the complete story behind this for some time.
The company behind the hugely popular ChatGPT announced this surprise "leadership transition" in a blog post Friday, saying that CTO Mira Murati will take over as interim CEO.
"Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities," the post states. "The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI."
The blog post also states that, "as part of the transition," co-founder Greg Brockman will step down from his role as board chairman, but will maintain his role at the company, reporting to the CEO.
There's a lot of vagary in that statement, and tech sites like The Verge have still not gotten any clarification.
The board of directors of OpenAI says in a statement: "OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity. The board remains fully committed to serving this mission. We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward. As the leader of the company’s research, product, and safety functions, Mira is exceptionally qualified to step into the role of interim CEO. We have the utmost confidence in her ability to lead OpenAI during this transition period."
Altman co-founded OpenAI, and served as co-chair of its board along with Elon Musk until Musk left the company in 2018 over a potential conflict of interest with Tesla.
Altman has also been talking about the dangers of AI for at least seven years, while still working in the space — he discussed an apocalypse brought on by artificial intelligence back in 2016 when the New Yorker first profiled him.
Altman was one of the VIPs at this week's APEC summit in San Francisco, and has been one of the most well known names in the AI space for the past several years. Just last night in the rotunda of City Hall, at a reception for APEC media, Mayor London Breed name-checked Altman saying he was "changing the world every day" at OpenAI.
Update 2: Mashable suggests that an outage at ChatGPT last week that lasted several hours could have something to do with this? The outage was ultimately blamed on a DDoS attack.
Also, Altman has tweeted about his departure.
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.— Sam Altman (@sama) November 17, 2023
will have more to say about what’s next later.
This is a developing story.
Photo: Sam Altman of OpenAI walks from lunch during the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 06, 2022 in Sun Valley, Idaho. The world's most wealthy and powerful businesspeople from the media, finance, and technology will converge at the Sun Valley Resort this week for the exclusive conference. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)