Published on Nov 17, 2023 at 10:51 p.m.Updated Nov. 18, 2023 at 0:19
Electroshock for Silicon Valley. Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, will step down. The leading figure of American AI was suddenly fired by his board of directors on Friday evening. He is replaced by Mira Murati, who until now served as director of technology at OpenAI.
“Not always honest”
The manager was dismissed “after a deliberation process”, according to this press release. “He was not always honest in his communications with the board and thus limited his ability to carry out his responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his abilities to continue leading OpenAI. »
This board of directors is made up of four members, including Ilya Sutskever, the company’s scientific director. The other three are Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, Tasha McCauley, an entrepreneur married to American actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Helen Toner, the director of strategy at the University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology. from Georgetown.
The press release also indicates that Greg Brockman, Sam Altman’s right-hand man, “is resigning from his position as chairman of the board of directors”, but the engineer will however retain his role as product director of OpenAI. The council has not yet indicated who would replace him within it.
OpenAI, a laboratory specializing in artificial intelligence, was little known to the general public until the publication of ChatGPT a year ago. Capable of dialoguing on various subjects with its interlocutors, this conversational robot, as powerful as it is easy to use, has brilliantly exposed the progress of AI.
Since then, OpenAI has continued to improve its models and its interface at a dizzying pace. In May, the American company released GPT4, a new version of the engine that powers ChatGPT. This model, one of the most powerful in the world, is capable of reasoning, responding with humor and solving scientific problems.
The company has just organized its first conference for developers at the beginning of November. OpenAI users can now shape their own “GPT” in their own image: for example, a conversational robot specializing in wine or the best way to do laundry.
In the future, the company plans to offer a “GPT Store” filled with agents using AI to accomplish specific tasks. One of them could book plane tickets and hotels, another would manage users’ calendars and notify in the event of a conflict, etc.
A charismatic boss
However, the success of OpenAI seemed inseparable from its charismatic boss. Sam Altman, 38, co-founded the company in 2015, with several emblematic figures of Silicon Valley: Elon Musk, the boss of Tesla and SpaceX, but also Greg Brockman, who was at the time director of technology at Stripe, and Ilya Sutskever, an AI engineer who worked at Google Brain.
At the time, Sam Altman headed YCombinator, the famous incubator which saw the emergence of giants like Uber, Doordash, Stripe, Cruise and Instacart. Exceptionally, the manager does not own OpenAI shares. “I have enough money,” he told a Bloomberg conference in June, saying he derived other satisfactions from his role, such as his ability to influence.
For the past year, Sam Altman has presented himself as the spokesperson for the AI community. He did not hesitate to praise the progress made possible by this technology, but he also warned of the existential risks linked to uncontrolled development of artificial intelligence. In the meantime, the boss continued to develop new products and models at full speed. Before being stopped dead in its tracks by its board of directors.
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