June 22, 2024

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OpenAI Ousts Altman After Clashes Over AI Safety, Making Money

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(Bloomberg) — OpenAI, the pioneer of widely used tools that generate specialized digital content from simple prompts, ousted its co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman and lost another senior executive after a series of escalating disagreements over fundamental questions at the heart of artificial intelligence: How to keep the technology safe while also making money from it.

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Altman clashed with members of his board, especially Ilya Sutskever, an OpenAI co-founder and the company’s chief scientist, over how quickly to develop what’s known as generative AI, how to commercialize products and the steps needed to lessen their potential harms to the public, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. This person asked not to be identified discussing private information.

Directors of San Francisco-based OpenAI shocked the AI world Friday with the announcement that they were firing Altman, saying they had lost confidence in his leadership and that “he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board.” Within hours, Greg Brockman, a co-founder of OpenAI who had been chairman of the board, said he too would leave the company. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Brockman wrote, “based on today’s news, I quit.”

The AI community has long disagreed over how swiftly to develop tools capable of generating a broad range of images, software code and blocks of text quickly, with minimal prompting. Some have argued that, left unchecked, the technology poses threats to users, while others say that a slowdown would be irresponsible and could put people at risk — say, by depriving the sick of remedies more quickly discovered by AI. Such disputes have plagued OpenAI since its inception, and disagreements over safety and commercialization are why Elon Musk broke ties with OpenAI in 2018. They also explain why a group of employees departed in 2020 and started rival Anthropic.

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2023-11-18 03:18:20

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