Hundreds of employees at OpenAI are on the brink of leaving the prominent artificial intelligence firm to join Microsoft.

The potential exodus comes in the wake of OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman’s abrupt dismissal and his subsequent announcement of establishing an AI subsidiary at Microsoft.

Notably, Altman played a pivotal role in the ascent of artificial intelligence technology, prominently represented by the ChatGPT chatbot.

In a letter addressed to the company’s board, some of OpenAI’s most senior staff members expressed their intention to resign if there was no replacement for the current board.

The letter, initially disclosed to Wired, asserted, “Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI.”

Among the signatories were key figures such as Ilya Sutskever, the chief scientist, and Mira Murati, the executive who temporarily assumed the CEO role after Altman’s removal but was subsequently demoted.

The letter conveyed that Microsoft had assured them of positions at the new subsidiary for all OpenAI employees should they decide to join.

Reports indicate that up to 500 out of OpenAI’s 770 employees have signed the letter. Despite pressure from Microsoft and other major investors to reinstate Altman, Emmett Shear, former CEO of Amazon’s Twitch, has been appointed as OpenAI’s new CEO.

Altman, renowned for launching ChatGPT and catalyzing advancements in AI research, faced dismissal amid concerns that he underestimated the risks associated with the technology.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed Altman’s move to lead a new advanced AI research team at Microsoft.

The fallout from Altman’s dismissal includes high-profile departures from OpenAI and investor efforts to bring him back.

OpenAI, however, defended its decision, stating that “Sam’s behavior and lack of transparency” had undermined the board’s ability to supervise effectively.

Emmett Shear, in confirming his interim CEO role, addressed concerns about Altman’s departure, emphasizing that it was not related to safety concerns regarding AI technology.

Despite acknowledging the mishandling of the process and communication surrounding Altman’s removal, Shear expressed commitment to rebuilding trust within the company.

Microsoft, having invested over $10 billion in OpenAI, reiterated its dedication to the partnership and expressed confidence in the product roadmap.

OpenAI, in the competitive landscape of AI development, contends with other major players like Google and Meta, as well as emerging startups, in advancing its AI models, particularly in the domain of generative AI platforms such as ChatGPT.

 

 

Last Updated: 21 November 2023