Wow, just wow: "Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities” Marcus on AI is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I will never again have the right to judge people I know for reading and following celebrity gossip. My fascination and curiosity as to what happened here is hard to overstate and probably not healthy.
My guess: Last week he announced that OpenAI would indemnify its customers against intellectual property lawsuits which looked rather, erm, punchy to me. Basically created an unlimited and uncapped liability for the organisation in an area where the legal situation is wide open right now. I'm sure we will find out soon enough as this was very public so must be serious.
I was in attendance at the Commonwealth Club last week when Sam spoke with Joy Buolamwini. He came across as evasive and speaking in generalities. Direct questions, like how to deal with intellectual property rights for authors, went "avoided." It was also clear that Sam was so isolated by wealth and his tech life that he could not really relate to the harm the misuse of AI might cause (like arresting pregnant women based on bad facial recognition software being used by police). Market applications and startups in AI are exploding and no one can clearly see where to place bets (make early acquisitions) or what platforms will be the standards going forward. Sam seems to be lost of even having good thoughts on those questions. In the end, it will be about money: how to return a 100 times investment on $12 billion from investors like Microsoft. The Board has to be worrying about that and needing a plan for that.
As a librarian who spends a large part of my time explaining the limitations of data, the idea that massive amounts of very flawed data plus statistical models could lead to superintelligence never made much sense. And seeing it come from someone also pushing cryptocurrency didn’t help. Now the question of the moment - did OpenAIs board realize that the emperor has no clothes, or were they upset with Altman’s recent acknowledgement that he looked a little naked? Or something else?
Seems like they Opened-the-door-and-kicked-him-out AI
Conspiracy theory: The board read Gary’s post on Sam’s LLMs->AGI 180 yesterday and fires him on the spot.
It is a reasonable guess that maybe hype caught up with reality at some level. Hoping we are not looking at ethical lapses as with the crypto fiasco.
The fact remains that generative AI really pushed things forward, as we've seen with image generation and seamless language creation. Whether these alone are worth the recent money being invested it remains to be seen. I am optimistic the methods themselves still have much to give, in combination with other techniques, especially given the dearth of any alternatives.
I wonder if his messages about what can and can't be achieved might have anything to do with it.
So many questions
I appreciate all of the comments here and am learning a lot. My view is that the Board of OpenAI just got a lesson on what the AI industry is all about. It is about Microsoft beating other players like Google, Meta, Amazon and others for a dominant position in the industrial-commercial-consumer complex that is emerging. This about far more that the dualistic good versus evil thinking at OpenAI. This about getting a part of the billions in revenue and profits that will emerge as AI becomes as important as electricity or oil. With Sam and others from OpenAI going to Microsoft, it is now formally a war. Strategic scenario analyses will be useful to make investment decisions about markets to enter, infrastructure to invest in, joint-ventures to join, and acquisitions to make. Chasm analyses with scenarios might be helpful. Studying industrial history along with technological evolution will be useful. This is a game for big boys that can loose billions in pursuit of trillions.
This was inevitable, overpromising can only go so far. It could be that they've just collectively decided to throw him under the bus as the biggest over-promiser, but who knows. That said, I wasn't expecting the bubble to burst this year..
I don't know what basis in facts her accusations have, or what relation it has to recent events, but it came up in a search of the Twittersphere/Xsphere:
I hope he had nothing to do with the safeguard end of things, and this has nothing to do with that end of things too
It will also be interesting to see if the "coke heads from Wall Street," that Sam was worried about in his Atlantic Monthly interview come in an take over the company. Strategically, OpenAI needs a path forward that investors can understand and believe in. Sam clearly did not have that.
Sounds like he lied to the board. They tend to not like that.