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Sam Altman will lead the new AI team at Microsoft. OpenAI Board of Directors Names Emmett Shear Interim CEO

Sam Altman, the face of the artificial intelligence revolution, will not return as chief executive of OpenAI despite talks to negotiate his return on Sunday, two people familiar with the matter said, the latest twist in one of the showdowns the most dramatic in the boards of directors of Silicon Valley.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced in an article published early Monday morning on AI.

“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources they need to succeed,” Nadella said in his message.

Emmett Shear, co-founder of Twitch, a popular video game streaming platform acquired by Amazon in 2014, will be named interim CEO of OpenAI, replacing Mira Murati, who was named interim CEO Friday during a management reshuffle, the sources said. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. Interim CEO Patty Stonesifer serves on Amazon’s board of directors.)

The latest development came after a chaotic weekend, in which OpenAI investors and employees, blindsided by the board’s decision to fire Altman on Friday, launched a campaign to have him reinstated. In its vague statement explaining the reasons for his ouster, OpenAI had only said that Altman was not always “candid” in his communications with the board. The news reverberated through Silicon Valley and the halls of government, where Altman had become a major influencer on AI policy and regulation.

According to a person familiar with the board’s deliberations, it did not take issue with the company’s products or services, nor was its decision to exclude Altman driven by a debate between security and marketing. Given that Altman is talented, powerful and so well-liked, going against him was a challenge, this person said, but the board felt the pressure on OpenAI’s chief executive would only increase as the company moves closer to its goal of building “artificial general intelligence.” “, which the company defines as AI systems that are generally smarter than humans.

On Sunday, Altman visited OpenAI’s office to discuss his return to the company, posting a photo of himself with a visitor’s badge on X, formerly Twitter, and writing “the first and last time I wear one.” Altman, the board and investors including Microsoft and venture capital firms have discussed his return and replacing the current board with new directors, including floating names including the CEO of Airbnb Brian Chesky and former Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But by Sunday evening, those talks had broken down and the board announced to employees Shear’s appointment as interim CEO. An OpenAI spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. Shear and Altman did not respond to requests for comment. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an article on X: “We look forward to getting to know and working with Emmett Shear and the new leadership team at OAI. »

“It’s crazy for sure,” one of the people said, describing the latest twist. “So much value and mission destroyed overnight.”

Altman’s ouster highlights a major breakup in the world of artificial intelligence, where some believe the technology should be accelerated with minimal government regulation, in order to make money and provide useful tools to people, while others fear that the AI could soon surpass human intelligence and turn against its creators. . OpenAI was initially founded to counter the power of Big Tech in AI, but as the company invested more and began developing consumer products, some in the industry said it abandoned its focus. initial mission.

“Honestly, it’s heartbreaking to see such a revolutionary organization being destroyed,” said Sarah Guo, venture capitalist and founder of Conviction. “The former standard-bearer of the AI ​​revolution, the unassailable giant in the room is vulnerable, and new leaders will have their work cut out for them to build customer and employee trust. This completely changes the landscape strategic and encourages all other actors.

In a interview with technology podcaster Logan Bartlett published in June, Shear said he was generally optimistic about technology and that regulators should be careful not to harm innovation when creating technology guardrails. At the same time, he said super-intelligent AI taking over the world and eradicating human civilization was a real risk. In the podcast, Shear said he thought the chances of such an event happening were between 2 and 50 percent.

“It’s like a universe-destroying bomb,” Shear said of a hypothetical hyper-intelligent AI that would escape human control. “It’s bad in the sense that global warming is not a problem.”

Shear resigned as CEO of Twitch in February and was appointed part-time advisor to companies at Y Combinator, an influential San Francisco startup incubator that Altman himself led from 2014 to 2019.

In recent days, Altman’s ouster and OpenAI board drama have transfixed the tech industry. Under Altman’s leadership, the company grew from a nonprofit research lab to a lucrative corporation that became one of the most powerful players in artificial intelligence. After launching its chatbot, ChatGPT about a year ago, it sparked an AI arms race with big tech giants like Google and Microsoft, which is an investor in OpenAI.

Since Altman’s firing, a number of OpenAI executives and employees have resigned or signaled their intention to leave in solidarity. Greg Brockman, one of OpenAI’s founders, left the company in protest, explaining that he and Altman were shocked by the board’s decision. On Saturday, OpenAI executives told workers they were also surprised by the news and assured them the ouster had nothing to do with financial or privacy irregularities. On Saturday afternoon, investors and employees who supported Altman launched a campaign for his reinstatement.

Many employees posted their support for Altman on X, formerly known as Twitter. Prominent venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who was an early investor in OpenAI, said he wants Altman to return as CEO, but that he “would also support him in whatever he does.” would do next.”

As news of the circumstances surrounding Altman’s ouster began to emerge, Silicon Valley circles turned their attention to anger at the OpenAI board.

“What happened at OpenAI today is a board coup the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1985, when Apple’s board forced out Steve Jobs,” he said. Ron Conway, a longtime venture capitalist on

Alice Crites contributed to this report

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