Chinanews.com, November 11 (Chen Caixia) "I like OpenAI's time very much" - "I like OpenAI. As he wrote on social media after his dismissal, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, 23, returned to his position after a few days on a "rollercoaster" ride to once again show his attitude towards the AI startup.
The collective resignation of the chairman and several researchers, an open letter to the board of directors signed by more than 700 people, a negotiation that lasted until late at night... OpenAI's crisis, after turning one turn after another, seems to have come to an end.
However, the problem behind it still needs to be thought about - what are the deeper concerns behind a high-profile technology company that has mastered the cutting-edge technology of artificial intelligence development, but set off such a "farce" in just 120 hours?
Data map: Sam Altman.
A link clicks on the prologue of the "Gong Dou" drama
What happened to the "Five Days of Madness"?
At noon local time on November 11, Altman was attending the biggest party of the weekend - Formula 17 in Las Vegas. He clicked on a Google Meet link in his hotel room, which opened the prelude to a global drama of power "palace fighting" for artificial intelligence companies.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Altman joined the meeting at noon that day and found the company's board members staring at him. The ominous sign is that his closest ally, OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman, was not present. Board members told Altman that he had been fired and that the news would be announced soon.
The New York Times described OpenAI's board of directors as suddenly announcing the dismissal of Altman, like dropping a "bombshell" in Silicon Valley and the business world. Previously, the 38-year-old CEO had a smooth life. Since his company, OpenAI, ushered in the AI era with the release of ChatGPT a year ago, Altman has been traveling around the world, meeting with dignitaries from many countries to set the global AI policy agenda. And he is about to close a funding round that will value OpenAI at nearly $900 billion, nearly three times the valuation it received earlier in 2023.
But the board was vague about the reason for the termination, saying in a blog post that Altman "didn't always be open in his communications with the board."
After the news broke, the executive leadership team and employees at OpenAI's San Francisco headquarters, full of plants and fountains, were shocked. Subsequently, the company's co-founder and president, Greg Brockman, and several other executives announced their resignations in protest. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Mira Murati has been appointed interim CEO.
Immediately after being fired, Altman flew back to San Francisco. His home has been turned into a "war room," where many OpenAI employees, including interim CEO Murati and other members of the executive team, are busy discussing how to help him return to the company. In addition, many OpenAI investors are also said to be constantly pressuring the board of directors to push Altman back.
On the 19th local time, Altman returned to OpenAI's headquarters as a visitor to negotiate. Negotiations continued into the night, with Altman advocating for reinstatement and the formation of a new board of directors. But the directors have resisted resignation, saying they are worried about not knowing who will replace them and are vetting candidates. The lengthy negotiations finally came to an end, but instead of Altman, former Twitch CEO Emmett Hill was appointed CEO.
The breakdown of negotiations prompted Altman to switch to Microsoft's arms. Late at night on the 19th local time, Satya Nadella, the core figure in the negotiation and mediation between OpenAI's executives, investors and board of directors, announced that "Altman, Brockman and their former colleagues will join Microsoft to lead a new advanced artificial intelligence research team."
OpenAI's employees were in an uproar again. On the 20th local time, almost all of the company's more than 700 employees signed a joint letter, saying that if Altman cannot return to OpenAI, they will also resign and join Microsoft's new team.
In the face of large-scale resistance from employees and pressure from investors, OpenAI announced on the 21st local time that Altman would return to the CEO position. At the same time, a new board of directors will be formed.
"Altman's return, and the reorganization plan of the board of directors, have brought OpenAI's 'five crazy days' to an end." writes The New York Times.
Data map: OpenAI logo.
The OpenAI crisis has sparked even more controversy
Should AI be more advanced or safer?
Altman's return, although it solves the urgent need of who will lead OpenAI, but the OpenAI architecture problems exposed behind it, as well as the hidden worries about the future development of the artificial intelligence industry, will not disappear. According to the Wall Street Journal, the crisis will leave "scars" on everyone involved.
Founded in 2015 as a nonprofit, not a technology company, OpenAI was founded with a utopian dream of "building artificial general intelligence (AGI) for the benefit of all mankind." But then, in order to raise enough money to pay for the computing power required for AI models, in 2019, Altman persuaded Microsoft to inject $10 billion into OpenAI, and OpenAI has since started the road to commercialization.
At the same time, Altman devised a "peculiar" corporate structure — a nonprofit board that manages OpenAI's for-profit business unit to ensure that the company develops AI that benefits humanity.
According to people familiar with the matter, Altman believes in the "effective acceleration" of technology, and hopes that the company will quickly launch disruptive artificial intelligence products and sign contracts with customers, and even develop AI chips. OpenAI's recent rapid expansion into the commercial sector has left some board members unhappy, arguing that it violates the company's credo of "safe development of artificial intelligence," and the resulting tensions within the company have been going on for some time.
According to a Reuters report on the 22nd, citing sources, before Altman was fired, several researchers sent a letter to the OpenAI board of directors warning that a powerful artificial intelligence discovery could threaten humanity, and this project is called "Q*" (Q-star). The undisclosed letter and concerns about "artificial general intelligence" technology may have been one of the key reasons for the board's removal of Altman, two sources said.
In fact, OpenAI leaders have a long history of serious disagreements. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2018, there was a rift between Altman and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who left OpenAI in the same year. A few years later, OpenAI's leaders were at odds over security, and a group of key researchers left to form a rival company, Anthropic.
According to the analysis, Altman's dismissal actually reflects the larger controversy behind the AI industry, that is, how to strike a balance between commercialization and safe use. Altman's return does not represent the disappearance of the security controversy over AI, but rather proves that it is "driven by the huge profits behind commercialization".
As the pioneer of artificial intelligence, OpenAI is facing changes in organizational structure and management, and is "stormy" in the wave of commercialization. The Wall Street Journal commented that in a company that promises to build artificial intelligence for the benefit of humanity, the problem first happens to the person who created it. (ENDS)