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Sam Altman was fired as boss at ChatGPT firm OpenAI ‘over board’s fear he wasn’t considering safety implications of new tech experts have warned could destroy the world’

The tech world was in an uproar last night following the shock resignation of Sam Altman as boss of ChatGPT company OpenAI.

News of his resignation took Silicon Valley by surprise, as the 38-year-old was hailed as a pioneer and one of the leading figures in the high-stakes world of AI.

The fire appeared to catch Altman off guard, who did not elaborate on what might have led to his departure.

However, it is believed that there have been tensions between its board members over security concerns, particularly with OpenAI’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever.

It is believed that Sutskever had disagreements over the safety of AI, the speed at which the technology developed and the company’s commercialization, reports Bloomberg.

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, was unexpectedly fired from his position as leader of the ChatGPT company on Friday evening after tensions with the board

The fire appeared to catch Altman off guard, who did not elaborate on what might have led to his departure

The fire appeared to catch Altman off guard, who did not elaborate on what might have led to his departure

ChatGPT launched less than a year ago in November 2022, but the expansion happened so quickly that the board raised concerns about whether Altman was considering the security implications of its products, especially with commercial offerings.

The board explained Altman’s departure as CEO, saying he was not “consistently candid in his communications” with the artificial intelligence company’s board.

After reviewing Altman’s actions, which it did not elaborate on, the board said he “obstructed the board’s ability to carry out its responsibilities.”

“The board no longer has confidence in its ability to continue to lead OpenAI,” the board said in a blunt assessment of the situation.

The company said the board includes OpenAI’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever and three non-employees: Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner of the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

There are believed to have been tensions between its board members over security concerns, particularly with OpenAI's chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, pictured

There are believed to have been tensions between its board members over security concerns, particularly with OpenAI’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, pictured

Mira Murati, left, OpenAI's chief technology officer will take over as interim CEO effective immediately, the company said, as it searches for a permanent replacement

Mira Murati, left, OpenAI’s chief technology officer will take over as interim CEO effective immediately, the company said, as it searches for a permanent replacement

In the year since Altman catapulted ChatGPT to global prominence, he has become Silicon Valley’s sought-after voice on the promise and potential perils of artificial intelligence, and his sudden and largely unexplained departure cast uncertainty over the industry’s future.

OpenAI Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati will take over as interim CEO effective immediately, the company said, as it searches for a permanent replacement.

The announcement also said that another co-founder and CEO of OpenAI, Greg Brockman, the chairman of the board, would step down from his position but remain at the company, where he is president.

But later on X, formerly Twitter, Brockman wrote, “based on today’s news, I have stopped.”

Altman posted on X on Friday: “I enjoyed my time at openai. it was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit. Most of all, I loved working with such talented people. I’ll have more to say about the future later.’

“It sounded like there were ethical concerns that pushed the board to do something,” said Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi.

Altman, a key figure in the AI ​​landscape, catapulted ChatGPT to global prominence within a year of its launch in November

Altman, a key figure in the AI ​​landscape, catapulted ChatGPT to global prominence within a year of its launch in November

“If he is removed for ethical reasons, it can only be good for the company.”

Altman helped found OpenAI in 2015 as a nonprofit research lab. But it was ChatGPT’s explosion into the public consciousness that thrust Altman into the spotlight as the face of generative AI — technology that can produce new images, text passages and other media. During a world tour this year, he was mobbed by a crowd of adoring fans at an event in London.

He has met with several heads of state to discuss the potential and dangers of AI. Just Thursday, he took part in a CEO summit at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in San Francisco, where OpenAI is based.

He predicted that AI will “prove to be the greatest leap forward of all the major technological revolutions we have had so far.”

He also recognized the need for guardrails and drew attention to the existential dangers that future AI could bring.

It has fueled concerns about doomsday scenarios in which software takes over the world, steals intellectual property with impunity and makes secondary education a hotbed of fraud or simply obsolete; but on Thursday, Altman said “heavy regulation” had not been necessary for some time.

“At some point when the model can perform as well as the equivalent output of an entire company, and then an entire country, and then the entire world,” such rules would be useful, he said.

Some computer scientists have criticized this focus on remote risk as it distracts from the limitations and drawbacks of current AI products in the real world. The US Federal Trade Commission has launched an investigation into whether OpenAI violated consumer protection laws by collecting public data and publishing false information through its chatbot.

The company said the board consists of OpenAI’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, and three non-employees: Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner of the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

OpenAI’s main business partner, Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars in the startup and helped provide the computing power to run its AI systems, said the transition will not affect the relationship.

“We have a long-standing partnership with OpenAI and Microsoft remains committed to Mira and their team as we bring this next era of AI to our customers,” an emailed Microsoft statement said.

Although he wasn’t trained as an AI engineer, Altman, now 38, has been seen as a Silicon Valley prodigy since his early 20s. He was recruited in 2014 to lead the startup incubator YCombinator.

“Sam is one of the smartest people I know, and understands startups better than anyone I know, including myself,” YCombinator co-founder Paul Graham read in 2014 that Altman would become president. Graham said at the time that Altman was “one of those rare people who manage to be both terrifyingly effective and yet fundamentally benevolent.”

OpenAI started as a nonprofit when it launched with financial backing from Tesla CEO Elon Musk and others. The stated goals were to “advance digital intelligence in a manner most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, without being limited by the need to generate financial returns.”

That changed in 2018 when the company formed a for-profit Open AI LP and moved almost all of its staff to the company, not long after releasing the first generation of the major GPT language model for imitating human writing. Around the same time, Musk, who had co-chaired the board with Altman, resigned from the board. According to OpenAI, this would eliminate a “potential future conflict for Elon” due to Tesla’s work on building self-driving systems.

While OpenAI’s board has retained its nonprofit governance structure, the startup it oversees has increasingly sought to capitalize on its technology by tailoring its popular chatbot to enterprise customers.

At the first developer conference last week, Altman was the keynote speaker who presented a vision for a future of AI agents that could help people with a variety of tasks. Days later, he announced that the company would have to pause new subscriptions to the premium version of ChatGPT because it had exceeded capacity.

Altman’s departure “is indeed shocking because he has been the face of” generative AI technology, says Gartner analyst Arun Chandrasekaran.

He said OpenAI still has a “deep group of technical leaders,” but its next executives will have to guide it through the challenges of scaling the business and meeting the expectations of regulators and society.

Forrester analyst Rowan Curran speculated that Altman’s departure, while sudden, likely did not reflect deeper business problems.

“This appears to be a case of a management transition that was about issues with the individual in question, rather than the underlying technology or business,” Curran said.