Intelligence will be artificial, but feelings, including ambition, are very human.
The sudden dismissal of Sam Altman last Friday as head of the OpenAI company, due to the distrust in him of the majority of the board of directors, meant that Pandora's box was opened. Lightning, thunder and lightning. It is difficult to remember that an internal dispute, a heat that is said, has caused such an earthquake in an industry in full social expansion and that puts one of the most lucrative firms with a horizon in the abyss.
The business in short, because if one company represents the entire implementation of artificial intelligence (AI), it is undoubtedly OpenAI, creator of the popular ChatGPT. Yesterday he was in complete chaos due to the threat of hundreds of employees, at least 500 of about 700, to leave the company if his former boss did not return and join Microsoft, Altman's new destiny. This not only endangers the survival of the company. It is also causing confusion and concern for numerous startups that depend on OpenAI for their products and services.
The company announced the addition of Emmett Shear as interim CEO. Shear resigned last March as head of Twitch, Amazon's platform that allows live broadcasts, especially for video games.
The earthquake recorded on Friday, in which the tectonic plates of those who call for slowing down due to fear aroused by the expansion of AI and those who are betting on accelerating, collided, continued throughout the weekend with pressure from investors and talks to bring Altman back into office.
The protagonist posted a post on X on Sunday in which he showed his guest credential to the OpenAI headquarters and the comment that it would be the last time he would have it. He seemed to take his return for granted. His demands, however, for a new board of directors and another governance structure (the company was founded in 2015 on a non-profit basis) frustrated the negotiation.
The aftershock reached its climax yesterday. Microsoft, the main investor with $13 billion in OpenAI and driving pressure for the return of the ousted CEO, announced the signing of Altman, as well as his colleague Greg Brockman, both founders of OpenAI.
“The mission continues,” Altman wrote as soon as his signing was announced. Satya Nadella, CEO of the giant Microsoft, said that Altman will be the top head of the new research laboratory, “setting a new pace for innovation.”
This statement contrasts with the OpenAI board's desire for caution in the development of this technology. Shear, its new manager, stands out for being one of the apostles of the need to slow down.
Nadella assured that they maintain their commitment to OpenAI, but Microsoft can take a hit. The signing of Altman jeopardizes other venture capital investments for that company such as Thrive Capital and Sequoia Capital, which could leave the stock market quite empty if the technology giant pulls out. And huge secondary fundraising is also at stake.
Altman, 38, was the CEO and face of AI as the creator of the ChapGPT chatbot, which brought this industry out of the laboratory catacombs a year ago. The news of his dismissal was surprising because, according to analysts, never before had so much value been put at risk (OpenAI was valued at 90 billion) due to the impetuous decision of a board.
The trance grew worse. Shear's appointment did not quell the outrage. Shortly after, the workers' letter came out threatening to leave. Among the signatories are Mira Murati, who was appointed interim head on Friday, or, above all, Ilya Sutskeyer, AI researcher and member of the leadership that instigated the coup against Altman.
“I deeply regret my participation in those actions. “I never wanted to harm OpenAI,” the repentant stressed in a message on X. “I love everything we have built together and I will do everything possible to reunite the company,” he insisted. So the question was whether Shear has the ability to prevent the exodus. There were experts who pointed out whether this new Microsoft laboratory is nothing more than a ruse to force OpenAI to incorporate Altman again.
Some ironically said that to know what will happen in OpenAI, it is better to ask ChatGPT.