July 16, 2024

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OpenAI’s firing of Sam Altman and billionaire Marc Andreessen’s reaction: ‘e/acc!’

2 min read

In the land of the acceleratonists and the doomers, the techno-optimist stands tall. As Silicon Valley was roiled the weekend before Thanksgiving over the sudden firing of the face of AI, Sam Altman, the billionaire venture capitalist Marc Andreessen was typically vocal on Twitter, saying the equivalent of “I told you so.” It just looked a lot more like “e/acc,” instead.

The founder of Andreessen Horowitz, who has staked his claim firmly in the “accelerationist” camp for years before AI dominated the business climate of 2023, made his stance ultra-clear in October. His 5,200-word “techno-optimist manifesto,” posted on both his own substack and Andreessen’s blog page, ripped into skeptics of big tech in 15 sections, often lyrical and poem-like. The conclusion is there right at the start: “We are being lied to,” he writes, excoriating those who claim technology “takes our jobs, reduces our wages, increases inequality … [and] degrades our society.” (Andreessen has been writing tech-boosting manifestos for years before AI exploded on the scene, such as 2011’s “Why software is eating the world” and 2020’s “It’s time to build.”)

It’s still not publicly known exactly why OpenAI, the most pivotal firm in the development of generative artificial intelligence, ousted its cofounder and leader Sam Altman, but multiple reports point to exactly these kind of worries as the reason. The “accelerationist” camp that welcomes AI for being, as Altman said onstage in San Francisco just last week, like a Star Trek computer, is opposed by the “doomers,” who worry about it posing an existential risk to humanity. Elon Musk surprisingly leads their ranks, and he’s criticized OpenAI from straying too far from its nonprofit mission to benefit humanity since he left in 2018. 

Understanding the nature of OpenAI’s founding is pivotal to understanding the developing story of Altman and his board. It was co-founded in 2015 by…

Nick Lichtenberg

2023-11-19 14:19:00

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