June 13, 2024

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How will Mira Murati lead OpenAI? A Fortune Q&A offers clues

2 min read

The leadership shakeup at OpenAI on Friday shocked the world, with the company’s board firing CEO Sam Altman despite him becoming the face of artificial intelligence for many in Silicon Valley and beyond. But it’s also brought to the fore Mira Murati, the chief technology officer suddenly thrust into the role of OpenAI’s interim CEO.

Murati was already considered one of the most powerful women in business before the move. Fortune magazine featured her on the cover of its October/November issue about the “100 Most Powerful Women.” 

Now she’ll be leading one of the world’s most important companies as it reshapes industries with increasingly powerful AI tools. A look at her unlikely background and impressive rise via her interview with Fortune gives us clues as to how she might lead OpenAI in her new role. 

Before joining OpenAI in 2018, Murati had been working on AI applications at Tesla, playing a senior product manager role on the Model X. She described working at Elon Musk’s electric-vehicle maker as “a very formative moment—going through the whole experience of design and deployment of a whole vehicle.” 

But, she added, “I was more interested in general intelligence. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen at that point, but I knew that even if we just got very close, the things we would build along the way would be incredible.”

With that in mind, the mission at OpenAI to develop AI tools that benefit humanity “really resonated with me,” she said. 

But there was little in her childhood to suggest that Murati would end up at Tesla and OpenAI, two of the hottest companies in technology. First off, geography. Murati grew up in Albania as the Balkan country shifted from a totalitarian communist system to a more democratic government. Despite slow internet speeds, however, she was already looking for ways to apply technology to life’s biggest problems, and curious about the human brain works. 

At age 16, she…

Steve Mollman

2023-11-18 18:37:01

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