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OpenAI, the organization responsible for the popular conversational AI ChatGPIT, ousted its CEO and founder, Sam Altman, on Friday. His unexpected exit jolted the burgeoning AI industry.
In a recent statement, the company disclosed that an internal inquiry revealed Altman’s lack of truthfulness in his communications with the board.
The company proclaimed, “Mr. Altman’s departure comes after a thorough review by the board, which ascertained his inconsistency in candidness with the board, hampering his ability to fulfill his duties.” “The board no longer has faith in his leadership at OpenAI,” the company added.
OpenAI revealed that Mira Muratti, the Chief Technology Officer, will assume the role of interim CEO until a permanent successor is chosen.
Subsequent to the news, Altman tweeted expressing his fondness for his tenure at OpenAI, emphasizing the value of his experience and the collaboration with talented individuals. He also hinted at forthcoming details about his future endeavors.
This announcement follows OpenAI’s inaugural developer conference in San Francisco, where Altman presided over numerous demonstrations, including the unveiling of an array of advanced artificial intelligence tools, such as the capability for developers to create customized iterations of ChatGPT. He highlighted that approximately 2 million developers presently utilize the platform and that nearly 90% of Fortune 500 companies integrate the tool internally, resulting in a user base of 100 million active users.
The launch of ChatGPIT in late 2020 swiftly propelled Altman to an iconic figure and the face of a novel breed of AI tools capable of generating images and text based on basic user prompts. This technology, known as Generative AI, has since been adopted by Microsoft on its search engine and other services. Google also introduced a competing tool named “Bard” and developed other Generative AI tools in recent months.
ChatGPT rapidly gained widespread recognition, finding application in drafting emails for CEOs, simplifying website development for non-coders, and even passing examinations at law and business schools.
Despite being a long-standing proponent of AI, Altman has also been among its fiercest critics. During a congressional testimony earlier this year, he underscored the pivotal nature of the ongoing technological revolution, comparing it to either spreading knowledge, power, and education akin to the printing press or posing grave and enduring consequences akin to the atom bomb.
He was part of a cohort of tech CEOs who met with White House leaders, including Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden, this year to stress the ethical and responsible development of AI.
However, some individuals, including Elon Musk, who was involved in the establishment of OpenAI before parting ways, and numerous tech leaders, professors, and researchers urged caution and advocated a six-month hiatus on training the most potent AI systems, citing significant societal and human risks. Nonetheless, skepticism surfaced regarding whether the signatories aimed to preserve their competitive edge over other companies.
OpenAI declined CNN’s request for additional comments.
Arun Chandrasekaran, an analyst at Gartner Research, described Altman’s departure as “stunning,” given his persistent advocacy for OpenAI across various sectors. He speculated that the OpenAI board had after extensive contemplation reached this decision.
“OpenAI possesses an array of proficient technology leaders, and it will be intriguing to observe how its new generation of leaders upholds its rapid innovation culture, fosters business growth, and meets the expectations of regulators and society at large,” Chandrasekaran remarked.
AI insiders, analysts, and tech executives alike were astounded by the news. Microsoft, which had made substantial investments in OpenAI earlier this year, expressed its commitment to Mira and her team, with a company spokesperson remarking, “We are dedicated to supporting Mira and her team as we usher in this new era of AI to our customers.”
Microsoft’s stock plummeted by over 6% following the announcement.
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt lauded Altman as “my hero” in a tweet, commending him for transforming the collective world through his creation of a $90 billion company. Schmidt expressed eager anticipation for Altman’s future endeavors and the tremendous benefits it would yield to billions globally.
Reece Hayden, an analyst at ABI Research, speculated that the recent development may deal a severe blow to proponents advocating for AI regulation, given Altman’s impassioned advocacy for regulation, suggesting that OpenAI might lean towards a more self-regulatory approach.
CNN’s Claire Duffy contributed to reporting on this news.
This article has been updated with additional information.