Over 600 employees of OpenAI, the company behind AI chatbot ChatGPT, have signed an open letter demanding the resignation of the current board and the reinstatement of Sam Altman as CEO following the board’s removal of Altman and his subsequent move to Microsoft.
Wired reports that the world of AI has been rocked by the chaos surrounding ChatGPT developer OpenAI. More than 600 employees have signed a letter threatening to quit unless significant changes were made at the top level of the organization. This revolt was triggered by the controversial dismissal of CEO Sam Altman by the organization’s board and the departure of co-founder Greg Brockman from the company. The employees have called for the entire board to resign and for Altman and Brockman to be reinstated.
The circumstances surrounding Altman’s firing still remain largely unknown, with many considering that Altman may have been pushed out over ethical disagreements with the board. According to the employee letter, the board’s actions have jeopardized the company’s work and mission, highlighting a lack of competence and oversight. The signees of the letter include notable figures such as Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist and board member, who expressed regret over his role in the board’s decisions.
The situation escalated over a whirlwind weekend, with the board initially removing Altman from his position on Friday, citing his lack of candor with the board as the reason. Following this, there was a rapid reshuffling within the company, including the appointment and subsequent replacement of Mira Murati as interim CEO. This instability led to a wave of frustration among employees, who felt left in the dark about the reasons behind these decisions.
Shortly after Altman’s dismissal, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that Altman and Brockman would be joining the tech giant to head a new advanced AI research unit. This announcement came amid rumors that Microsoft was open to welcoming OpenAI employees to this new venture, further increasing the likelihood that many Altman loyalists may jump ship from OpenAI to join him at Microsoft.
The employees’ letter points to a larger issue within OpenAI’s governance structure. The organization, initially founded as a non-profit to ensure the safe and ethical development of AI, underwent significant changes under Altman’s leadership, shifting towards a more commercial focus. This shift may have contributed to tensions within the board, culminating in the current crisis.