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  • Voltaire Staff

Sam Altman fostered 'toxic atmosphere': Ex-OpenAI board member spills beans on CEO's infamous departure

In a recent interview on "The Ted AI Show" podcast, former OpenAI board member Helen Toner shed light on the events leading to the dramatic firing and subsequent rehiring of CEO Sam Altman last November.

Toner's account painted a troubling picture of Altman as a manipulative executive who cultivated a ‘toxic atmosphere’ within the organisation.

According to Toner, one pivotal moment in Altman's ousting occurred when two OpenAI executives reported instances of "psychological abuse" to the board, reported Reuters.

"They were really serious, to the point where they actually sent us screenshots and documentation of some of the instances they were telling us about..." she said.

OpenAI, when queried, directed attention to a statement issued by current board chair Bret Taylor to "The Ted AI Show" podcast.

"We are disappointed that Miss Toner continues to revisit these issues...The review concluded that the prior board's decision was not based on concerns regarding product safety or security, the pace of development, OpenAI's finances, or its statements to investors, customers, or business partners," it read.

Taylor's statement indicated that a thorough review had been undertaken regarding the events of last November.

Altman made a return to OpenAI just four days after his initial dismissal.

The swift turnaround was spurred by a significant ultimatum from nearly all 700 staff members at the time, threatening departure unless the board reinstated Altman.

In the podcast, Toner explained that Altman's rapid reinstatement was fuelled by employees being warned that the company would face collapse without his leadership.

As the prospect of his return loomed, there was a palpable fear among employees of potential reprisals from Altman if they did not show their support.

Toner also drew attention to the fact that that OpenAI's board discovered the existence of ChatGPT only through a post on Twitter.

Image Source: Unsplash




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