Sam Altman's Fate at OpenAI

The wild drama at OpenAI continues.

Hey Everyone,

So here at Machine Learning Times, we are going to be mixing it up a little. This Newsletter will be focusing primarily on Breaking News and how AI is developing at major companies like OpenAI, Google, Nvidia, Microsoft and others. We will also deal with startup AI news to some extent. We will typically publish at 7am or 7pm EST.

The saga of Sam Altman continues for OpenAI.

In a nutshell the company’s board surprised everyone and fired Altman on a video call on Friday and there’s been a lot of media attention since then over the weekend with other researchers apparently quitting in protest including Greg Brockman.

Meanwhile importantly Investors like Microsoft are not happy. Investors including Thrive Capital, Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global, and Microsoft and trying to get back Sam Altman’s job at the firm.

OpenAI’s board had been given an ultimatum or more people would quit, a deadline which they appear to have missed. The two factions inside OpenAI appear to be aligned with Ilya Sutskever and Sam Altman for a battle in how to scale OpenAI either faster or slower for AGI safety issues. There have been significant internal disagreements with who to get for the next round of funding including Microsoft.

Should Sam Altman go back to OpenAI even if it's under a lesser role?

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There has been a lot of drama online in reaction to the shocking news. The OpenAI board appears to be more pro trust and safety, while Sam Altman is trying to grow the company faster at all costs, including courting funding from the Middle East and Japan.

Given that GPT-5 is on the way, either way, OpenAI will likely need more funding in 2024.

OpenAI already has a history of internal conflict following Elon Musk’s exist in 2018 and Anthropic being founded by former employees. As Anthropic and startups like Germany’s Aleph Alpha raise the bar on trust and safety, some enterprises don’t trust OpenAI quite as much.

Microsoft, Tiger Global and venture firm Thrive Capital are among several of OpenAI’s top backers that are part of an effort to reinstate Altman. It does not appear that the OpenAI board is caving to the pressure so far. OpenAI has already survived the splinter with Anthorpic, it’s not clear if Sam Altman and Greg Brockman could found another competing company as a result bringing with them their faction and loyal AI scientists.

My community is debating our reactions and speculations about this event on our community CHAT here. Reddit, Hacker News, LinkedIn and X of course have a lot of fascinating comments on the event.

Sam Altman is trending on X, with over 60,000 posts about it. It’s clear that a lot of politics is involved in the AI safety vs. commercialization aspect.

But how much control should Microsoft have on OpenAI? They own 49% of the company.

Should Microsoft and other investors get to decide all that goes on there or does the OpenAI Board have the authority to do what they think is right for the startup and for the safety of how AGI is developed? Ilya sides much more on the side of caution and foresight have worked at Google before.

Ilya Sutskever, a co-founder and board member at OpenAI who was responsible for limiting societal harms from its AI definately did a coup of sorts. But will it stick? Fascinating times in A.I. no doubt.

I think it’s highly likely this split is irreconcilable, AGI being safe for humanity is too important to compromise on, no matter how many Billions Sam Altman could fund for OpenAI working with Billionarres including oil money from Saudi Arabia.

Should Sam Altman and Greg Brockman and his faction found a new AI startup?

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