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Monday, November 20, 2023

Making the World a Bitter Place

To the Board of Directors at OpenAI,

OpenAI is the world’s leading AI company. We, the employees of OpenAI, have developed the best models and pushed the field to new frontiers. Our work on AI safety and governance shapes global norms. The products we built are used by millions of people around the world. Until now, the company we work for and cherish has never been in a stronger position.

The process through which you terminated Sam Altman and removed Greg Brockman from the board has jeopardized all of this work and undermined our mission and company. Your conduct has made it clear you did not have the competence to oversee OpenAI.

When we all unexpectedly learned of your decision, the leadership team of OpenAI acted swiftly to stabilize the company. They carefully listened to your concerns and tried to cooperate with you on all grounds. Despite many requests for specific facts for your allegations, you have never provided any written evidence. They also increasingly realized you were not capable of carrying out your duties, and were negotiating in bad faith.

The leadership team suggested that the most stabilizing path forward - the one that would best serve our mission, company, stakeholders, employees and the public - would be for you to resign and put in place a qualified board that could lead the company forward in stability.

Leadership worked with you around the clock to find a mutually agreeable outcome. Yet within two days of your initial decision, you again replaced interim CEO Mira Murati against the best interests of the company. You also informed the leadership team that allowing the company to be destroyed “would be consistent with the mission.”

Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI. We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement and care for our mission and employees. We, the undersigned, may choose to resign from OpenAI and join the newly announced Microsoft subsidiary run by Sam Altman and Greg Brockman. Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join. We will take this step imminently, unless all current board members resign, and the board appoints two new lead independent directors, such as Bret Taylor and Will Hurd, and reinstates Sam Altman and Greg Brockman.

Kara Swisher is all over this CusterFluck. Are these Tech bros "Making the world a better place?"

…Altman’s firing can be seen as a stunning experiment in OpenAI’s unusual structure. It’s possible this experiment is now unraveling the company as we’ve known it, and shaking up the direction of AI along with it. If Altman had returned to the company via pressure from investors and an outcry from current employees, the move would have been a massive consolidation of power. It would have suggested that, despite its charters and lofty credos, OpenAI was just a traditional tech company after all.

Even with Altman out, this tumultuous weekend showed just how few people have a say in the progression of what might be the most consequential technology of our age. AI’s future is being determined by an ideological fight between wealthy techno-optimists, zealous doomers, and multibillion-dollar companies. The fate of OpenAI might hang in the balance, but the company’s conceit—the openness it is named after—showed its limits. The future, it seems, will be decided behind closed doors.
Microsoft Emerges as the Winner in OpenAI Chaos
Microsoft has hired OpenAI cofounders Sam Altman and Greg Brockman to head a new advanced AI team, acquiring one of the most successful management groups in the AI industry.

JUST AFTER 2 am Pacific time on Monday morning, several OpenAI staffers—including its chief technology officer, Mira Murati—posted in unison on X: “OpenAI is nothing without its people.” Sam Altman, who was dramatically removed as the company’s chief executive on Friday, reposted many of them. By then, Altman already had a new job. Satya Nadella—CEO of Microsoft, a major investor and partner of OpenAI—announced late on Sunday night that Altman and his cofounder Greg Brockman would be joining the tech giant to head a new “advanced AI research team.” Nadella’s statement seemed to suggest that others from the startup would be joining Microsoft.

By hiring Altman and Brockman amid the chaos at the top of OpenAI, Microsoft has managed to acquire one of the most successful management teams in artificial intelligence without having to buy the company—whose pre-chaos valuation was $86 billion…
"Silicon Valley is peerless when it comes to mythologizing its ideas men (and yes, they tend to be men). In the industry’s telling, technologies and their founders succeed in a meritocratic fashion, based on the genius of the idea and the skill of its execution. OpenAI’s self-mythologizing went a step further, positioning itself almost in opposition to its own industry—a company so committed to an ideology and a purity of product that it would self-immolate to protect itself and others. Over the weekend, this ideology crashed against the rocks of a capitalist reality. As is always true in Silicon Valley, a great idea can get you only so far. It’s the money that gets you over the finish line."
Nothing more to see here, folks, time to move on... (yeah, right.)

There’s something a little absurd about the saga. It’s remarkable to see so many prominent people in A.I. acting so human—being impulsive, enraged, and confused. The scary part is that the confusion has deep roots. It’s real, and inherent to the field. How dangerous is A.I.? How close are we to inventing A.G.I.? Who should be trusted to keep it safe, and how should they go about doing that? No one really knows the answers to those questions, and, as a result, some of the most qualified people in the world are fighting among themselves.—Joshua Rothman, the New Yorker

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