- Sam Altman will be in charge of the OpenAI team and products no matter what.
- So the three remaining OpenAI board members should explain why they fired him and move on.
- If the board was trying to save humanity from OpenAI products, their attempt failed – but thank you!
The bizarre soap opera that is OpenAI has entered its fifth day.
There is no formal resolution yet, but as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said on television, the practical result is known:
OpenAI employees will continue to create OpenAI products and Sam Altman will continue to lead them.
Altman will lead the OpenAI team either from his new role at Microsoft or his previous role at OpenAI. And he will have more control over the product and the team than before the OpenAI board’s botched coup attempt.
So it’s time for the three remaining OpenAI board members to put an end to this distraction, tell us what really motivated them, and move on.
It remains unclear why OpenAI’s board of directors fired Altman. The reason given – that he lied to them – did not stand up to scrutiny. As Business Insider’s Kali Hays reported, when asked for details about Altman’s alleged dishonesty, one of the board members who ousted him gave two vague and flimsy examples, none of which – even if fairly represented – appears to be a dismissal offence.
This board member has since retracted his statement, saying he regretted having ousted Altman and wanted him to return.
This leaves the other three board members in an even stranger and more precarious position.
There appear to be two main theories as to the real reason the board fired Altman:
First, OpenAI rolled out a new feature that directly competes with a new feature at Quora, the question-and-answer site run by OpenAI board member Adam D’Angelo. Maybe Altman didn’t warn D’Angelo, and D’Angelo was upset about it.
Second, the board is concerned that OpenAI is evolving too quickly and recklessly and will invent (or has already invented) sentient AI that will have no use for meat-based life forms and will therefore exterminate all life in the universe.
This second reason would certainly be a valid reason to try to rein in OpenAI, even if it is unpopular within the tech community.
But, as Business Insider’s Alistair Barr argued, if the goal of OpenAI’s three remaining board members is to save humans from OpenAI’s product, it’s time for those board members to administration to say so.
Personally, I don’t think the three remaining OpenAI board members have as much control over the future of AI and the fate of the universe as they might think. If it’s that easy to build a Cylon empire, then one of the dozens of other companies racing to advance AI probably will, even if OpenAI doesn’t.
So if that’s the problem, no matter what the OpenAI board does next, humanity will probably be toast.
As a member of humanity, I thank the three remaining members of OpenAI for perhaps taking care of us.
But no matter, it’s time for them to tell us what they think!
Because Sam Altman is going to lead the OpenAI team and continue developing its products anyway.
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