Sam Altman will return as head of OpenAI

Sam Altman will come back being the CEO of OpenAI, the company that manages the artificial intelligence system ChatGPT and of which he is one of the founders. The company announced that a provisional agreement had been reached for his return and for the replacement of certain members of the board of directors, the body which had dismissed him on Friday without warning and without any explanation. Investors and employees immediately pressured the company’s management to be rehired: Altman is one of the most prominent figures in the artificial intelligence sector and some credit him with much of the success of ChatGPT.

Over the weekend, OpenAI’s board confirmed the decision to fire him. It was announced Monday that Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI, would hire Altman. However, by Monday evening, almost all OpenAI employees had signed an open letter calling for his return and resignation from the board, otherwise threatening mass resignation. Along with Altman’s return, it was also announced Tuesday evening that some board members would be replaced: only one of the outgoing members would retain his position.

Microsoft played a particularly important role in this matter. The large IT company is the main investor and collaborator of OpenAI: it owns 49% of the startup, in which it has invested 13 billion dollars (although it seems that everything has not yet been paid) and has provided some of the technological equipment necessary to operate ChatGPT. In exchange, OpenAI is required to share the operating mechanisms of its products. Microsoft very quickly announced the hiring of Altman and another dismissed executive, Greg Brockman, and said it was ready to also hire the 700 OpenAI employees who had signed the letter to management on Monday.

OpenAI is made up of a commercial company, led until Friday by Altman and founded in 2018: it is however controlled by a non-profit company, managed by the board of directors and founded in 2015. The decision to fire Altman was taken by the board of directors of the non-profit company: it responds only in a limited way to the requests of shareholders, who interact instead with the commercial company. It is possible that this particular aspect will change following pressure from investors: among others, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has supported the need to change the company’s management procedures.

Officially, the board of directors justified Altman’s dismissal by saying that his lack of transparency in certain decisions would prevent him from adequately overseeing the company. However, according to some sources, the dismissal was also due to differences between the board of directors and Altman on the speed with which to develop, disseminate and commercialize artificial intelligence systems: the board of directors would have had a more cautious position, while Altman seemed interested in making the most of the high visibility gained by OpenAI and ChatGPT over the past year to attract new investment and expand.

Source: ilpost

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