Sam Altman returns to OpenAI’s board of directors

Sam Altman returns to OpenAI’s board of directors

Sam Altman, January 18, 2024, in Davos (Switzerland).

The return is triumphant. OpenAI boss Sam Altman returned to the board of directors of the company he co-founded on Friday, March 7, more than four months after a major governance crisis within the publisher of the leading generative artificial intelligence (AI) program, ChatGPT.

The 30-year-old was abruptly fired by the former board in mid-November 2023 and rehired a few days later, after protests from executives and the vast majority of OpenAI employees. Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI, backed Sam Altman and was given an observer seat on the board after the resignation of members who criticized the boss.

In a press release issued Friday, OpenAI announced the return of Sam Altman to the board and the addition of three new members, three women: Sue Desmond-Hellmann, former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Nicole Seligman, a former president of Sony , and Fidji Simo, the head of Instacart and former director of Facebook’s mobile application.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Sam Altman returns to head OpenAI with support from Microsoft

The Californian start-up highlighted the experience of the three new members “in leading international organizations and managing complex regulatory environments, especially in the field of technology”.

“Their experience and leadership will enable the board to oversee OpenAI’s growth and ensure we continue OpenAI’s mission to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits us all.”said Bret Taylor, chairman of OpenAI’s board of directors, quoted in the press release.

Silicon Valley star

The success of ChatGPT at the end of 2022 took its creator to the rank of star in Silicon Valley and launched the fashion for generative AI (production of content based on a simple search in everyday language). For Sam Altman and his colleagues, the goal is to improve the technology so that it has cognitive abilities comparable or superior to those of humans – what they call “general AI.”

In November 2023, four members of the board of directors justified Sam Altman’s dismissal by his lack of “transparency” towards them, without providing further details. According to US media, several board members criticized the former Stanford student for advocating the accelerated development of OpenAI, even though it meant asking fewer questions about AI’s possible potential abuses.

WilmerHale, an independent firm charged with investigating this crisis, estimated that ‘Sam Altman’s behavior did not justify his dismissal’, according to another press release from OpenAI on Friday. Office “perceived that there was a breach of trust between the former board of directors and Mr. Altman, which precipitated the events of November 17 [2023] »details of the company.

The former CA hoped “mitigated internal management issues and did not expect his actions to destabilize the company”, according to WilmerHale’s lawyers. They further believe that their decision “was not motivated by concerns about product safety or security, the pace of development, OpenAI’s financials, or its statements to investors, customers or business partners” − so many reasons mentioned in the American press after the crisis.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers “The Sam Altman affair has shown that the artificial intelligence doomsayers have lost a battle”

“I’m glad this is all over”Mr. Altman told reporters on Friday, adding that he was shocked to see people leaking information in an attempt to harm the company or its mission. “Play us off against each other.” He also said he learned from the experience and apologized for an argument with a former board member that he could have handled “with more grace and attention”.

Elon Musk’s complaint

Last week, Elon Musk, one of OpenAI’s co-founders, filed a lawsuit against the company, accusing Sam Altman and current management of “deceived” its original mission – according to its bylaws as a non-profit organization was to work for the good of humanity and design ‘open source’ AI programs (accessible, adaptable, usable and redistributable to all).

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The boss of Tesla, SpaceX and He mainly criticizes OpenAI for its partnership with Microsoft, which has invested around $13 billion in the start-up in recent years. The two companies market AI services to developers and individuals, competing in this area with Google and other technology giants.

Also read | Article reserved for our subscribers OpenAI: “The pharaonic ambition of Sam Altman”

Sam Altman and other executives laid out their counterarguments on Tuesday, with supporting emails, to show that Elon Musk was not opposed to the idea of ​​transforming OpenAI to carry out his mission to build general AI in the public interest. In 2017, “We all realized that we would need a lot more capital to succeed in our mission – billions of dollars a year, which was far more than any of us, especially Elon, thought we could raise as a nonprofit.”they mainly explain.

At the end of January, the US Competition Authority announced that it was investigating investments by Microsoft, Google and Amazon in the most important generative artificial intelligence start-ups OpenAI and Anthropic.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Artificial intelligence: “Moving away from academic idealism and towards commercial pragmatism must have led to conflicts at OpenAI”

Le Monde with AP and AFP

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