The weekend chaos at ChatGPT developer OpenAI has put Microsoft well ahead in the artificial intelligence race. The software giant is capturing ousted OpenAI chief Sam Altman and other startup employees.

This means that Microsoft not only continues to have access to OpenAI technology as a major investor, but also has most of its own inventors.

Altman and other former OpenAI employees will lead a new research group at Microsoft, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced Monday. Over the weekend, he unsuccessfully tried to get Altman, who was unexpectedly ousted on Friday, to return to the top position at OpenAI, according to media reports.

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Microsoft brings leading artificial intelligence experts under one roof

Microsoft is working to provide Altman and Co. with all the necessary resources as quickly as possible, Nadella emphasized. First of all, it will likely be the enormous computing power required by modern AI models.

Microsoft has a ton of them, which was also the main reason why Altman, as head of OpenAI, attracted the software giant as an investor. In return, Microsoft was given the opportunity to incorporate OpenAI technology such as ChatGPT into its products such as Office, which could change everyday office life.

ChatGPT, a chatbot that can formulate sentences at a human language level, created a huge stir around artificial intelligence about a year ago. Tech heavyweights such as Google and Facebook’s Meta group have rushed to release competing products. Until Friday, OpenAI seemed like the clear pioneer setting the pace—and Microsoft was depending on the company’s developments.

The software giant now has some of the industry’s leading minds to share their knowledge and develop its own artificial intelligence models. Microsoft’s wide range of products provides a wealth of data to explore. At the same time, the group has so many clients that using this technology can have a big impact.

Riot at OpenAI?

Meanwhile, on OpenAI, the top position closed for the second time in three days. The interim leader is now Emmett Shear, the longtime head of gaming streaming platform Twitch.

Previous technology chief Mira Murati, who also took over interim leadership of OpenAI on Friday, has meanwhile reportedly sided with Altman. Late Monday, Murati and dozens of other company employees wrote verbatim that OpenAI is nothing without its people. It was like a riot.

According to media reports, a dispute over leadership at OpenAI led to Altman’s departure. Some leading figures, such as CTO Ilya Sutskever, were of the opinion that Altman wanted to bring artificial intelligence software to market too quickly and was too commercial in its approach. The majority of the board of directors was on their side.

The reasons for Altman’s expulsion have not yet been made public.

OpenAI was founded in 2015 as a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance artificial intelligence for the benefit of everyone. However, when it became clear that the donations would not generate the necessary billions in investment, a for-profit company was created, led by Altman. Among other things, he attracted Microsoft as an investor, thereby providing OpenAI with access to the necessary computing power.

However, the conflict between the two approaches grew deeper. This is now effectively leading to a split in OpenAI, with unclear prospects for the remaining company after leading employees leave. Altman will be joined at Microsoft by, among others, co-founder Greg Brockman.

As of Monday, there was no official information about why Altman lost his top post. The board said Friday only that it had lost confidence in Altman because he had not been honest in his communications with the board. This is unusually harsh wording for such press releases.

After his appointment, the new interim chief, Shear, simply wrote that the trigger was not specific disagreements over the safe pace of AI software adoption, but “completely different” reasons.
© dpa


Former OpenAI chief Sam Altman joins Microsoft

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