Sam Altman: ChatGPT guru’s sudden departure raises key questions we should all be thinking

The CEO of the company responsible for ChatGPT, widely considered the face of generative artificial intelligence, has been fired from the firm he helped catapult to the forefront of the tech world.

But for those who are interested AI Safety, the focus is not so much Sam Altman does the following about what the coming weeks may reveal behind the technology ChatGPT.

OpenAI Council, who announced the decision on Fridaysaid Altman was not “consistently honest in his communications” with his members.

This hindered the board's ability to carry out its duties and resulted in a loss of confidence in the company's ability to lead, the remaining members said in a blog post.

They did not go into more detail.

Greg Brockman, another founder, left the company after Mr. Altman was fired, followed by three senior OpenAI researchers.

The layoffs were only possible because of OpenAI's unusual governance structure.

It is based on its origins as a non-profit organization that later created a limited for-profit subsidiary that limits returns to investors.

This non-profit structure means that board members are committed to creating safe AI that is “broadly beneficial,” rather than maximizing shareholder value like most corporate boards.

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Who is Sam Altman?

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OpenAI CEO Sam Altman at the summit

Concerns and questions surrounding sudden departures

OpenAI has a tight-knit board of just six members.

In addition to the two co-founders, Mr. Altman and Mr. Brockman, it consisted of Ilya Sutzkever, the company's chief scientist and the remaining founder on the board, and three non-executive directors.

They are tech entrepreneur Tasha McCall, Quora CEO Adam D'Angelo, and Helen Toner, director of strategy and research grants at the Technology Research Center.

If members justify Mr. Altman's dismissal by saying he withheld information from them, it raises concerns about the implications and impact the board's decisions may have on the safe use of AI or its impact on society.

Members of society have been using AI to help them with everyday tasks for decades, whether through a virtual assistant like Apple's Siri or satellite navigation systems to get directions.

However, it was Launch of ChatGPT a year ago which brought artificial intelligence to the forefront of public consciousness as a powerful technology and introduced many to the concept of generative AI, which generates text, images and many other forms of content.

Mr Altman has been the public face of this charge and a key driver of positioning OpenAI at the forefront of generative AI.

No board would let him off lightly, which begs the question: What has been the impact on the decisions made by the board when they believe Mr. Altman has not been honest with them?