The bizarre soap opera that is OpenAI has entered its fifth day.
As yet, there is no formal resolution, but as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said on TV, the practical outcome is known:
OpenAI employees will continue to build OpenAI’s products, and Sam Altman will continue to lead them.
Altman will either manage the OpenAI team from his new role at Microsoft or from his old role at OpenAI. And he’ll have more control over the product and team than he did before the OpenAI Board’s botched attempted coup.
So it’s time for the three remaining members of the OpenAI board to end the distraction, tell us what really motivated them, and move on.
It’s still not clear why the OpenAI board fired Altman. The stated reason — that he lied to them — has not held up under scrutiny. As Business Insider’s Kali Hays reported, when asked for specifics about Altman’s alleged dishonesty, one of the board members who ousted him gave two vague and flimsy examples, neither of which — even if fairly represented — seems like a firing offense.
That board member, moreover, has since recanted, saying he regrets ousting Altman and wants him back.
That leaves the other three board members in an even stranger and more tenuous position.
There seem to be two main theories about the real reason the board fired Altman:
This second reason would certainly be a valid reason for trying to hit the brakes at OpenAI, even if it is unpopular within the tech community.
But, as Business Insider’s Alistair Barr has argued, if the goal of the three remaining OpenAI Board members is to save humans from OpenAI’s product, it’s time for those board members 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 may think. If it’s so easy to build a Cylon empire, then one of the dozens of other companies that are racing to advance AI will probably do it, even if OpenAI doesn’t.
So, if that’s the issue, regardless of what the OpenAI board does next, humanity’s probably toast.
As a member of humanity, I do thank the three remaining OpenAI members for maybe looking out for us.
But, regardless, it’s time for them to tell us what they’re thinking!
Because Sam Altman is going to be leading the OpenAI team and continuing its product development either way.
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