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OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever announces he will leave the startup

Sam Altman (L), US entrepreneur, investor, programmer, and founder and CEO of artificial intelligence company OpenAI, and the company's co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, speak together at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv on June 5, 2023.

Sam Altman (left), American entrepreneur, investor, programmer and founder and CEO of artificial intelligence company OpenAI, and the company’s co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, speak together at the University of Tel Aviv in Tel Aviv, June 5, 2023.

Jack Guez | Afp | Getty Images

OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever announced Tuesday that he is leaving the Microsoft-backed startup.

“I am excited about what comes next, a project that is close to my heart personally and of which I will share details in due course,” Sutskever wrote in a statement. Message Tuesday.

The departure comes months after OpenAI suffered a leadership crisis involving co-founder and CEO Sam Altman.

In November, OpenAI’s board of directors said in a statement that Altman had not been “always candid in his communications with the board.” The issue quickly became more complex. The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets reported that Sutskever focused on ensuring that artificial intelligence would not harm humans, while others, including Altman, were instead more eager to move forward. forward with the provision of new technologies.

Nearly all OpenAI employees signed an open letter announcing they would leave in response to the board’s action. A few days later, Altman was back at the company and board members Helen Toner, Tasha McCauley and Sutskever, who had voted to oust Altman, were absent. Adam D’Angelo, who had also voted to remove Altman, remained on the board.

When Altman was asked about Sutskever’s status during a Zoom call with reporters at the time, he said there were no updates to share. “I love Ilya. … I hope we work together for the rest of our careers, my career, whatever,” Altman said. “Nothing to announce today.”

On Tuesday, Altman shared his thoughts on Sutskever’s departure.

“This is very sad for me; Ilya is undoubtedly one of the greatest minds of our generation, a beacon in our field, and a dear friend,” Altman wrote. on. “His genius and vision are well known; his warmth and compassion are less known but no less important.” Altman said research director Jakub Pachocki, who has worked at OpenAI since 2017, will replace Sutskever as chief scientist.

OpenAI announced new board members, including former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. Microsoft was granted an observer position on the board without voting rights.

In March, OpenAI announced the composition of its new board of directors and the conclusion of an internal investigation led by the US law firm WilmerHale into the events that led to Altman’s ouster. Altman joined the OpenAI board of directors and three new board members were announced: Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Nicole Seligman, former executive vice president and global general counsel of Sony and president of Sony Entertainment; and Fidji Simo, CEO and president of Instacart.

The three new members “will work closely with current board members Adam D’Angelo, Larry Summers and Bret Taylor, as well as Greg, Sam and senior management at OpenAI,” according to a statement from the company published in March, referring to OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman. .

News of Sutskever’s departure comes a day after OpenAI launched a new AI model and a desktop version of ChatGPT, along with an updated user interface, the company’s latest effort to expand the use of its popular chatbot.

The update brings the GPT-4 model to everyone, including free OpenAI users, Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati said during a livestreamed event on Monday. She added that the new model, GPT-4o, is “much faster,” with improved text, video and audio capabilities.

OpenAI said it plans to eventually allow users to video chat with ChatGPT. “This is the first time we’ve really taken a big step forward in ease of use,” Murati said.

In 2015, Altman and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, another OpenAI co-founder, wanted Sutskever, then a research scientist at Google, to become the fledgling startup’s top scientist, according to Musk’s lawsuit against OpenAI in March.

“Dr. Sutskever went back and forth about whether he should leave Google and join the project, but ultimately it was a call from Mr. Musk on the day OpenAI, Inc. was publicly announced that convinced Dr. Sutskever to commit to joining the project as “The Chief Scientist of OpenAI, Inc.”, the legal filing states.

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