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  • Voltaire Staff

Sam Altman reinstated as OpenAI CEO

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

Days after he was shown the door, Sam Altman Wednesday made a glorious return as the chief executive of OpenAI, which as part of the deal rejigged the company board.

"We have reached an agreement in principle for Sam Altman to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D'Angelo. We are collaborating to figure out the details. Thank you so much for your patience through this," OpenAI wrote on X, announcing Altman's return.

The firm that made ChatGPT had on November 17 fired Sam Altman saying he was not consistently candid with the company board.

It had also removed its chairperson Greg Brockman from the board but said he will still retain his role at the company. Brockman too made a comeback on Wednesday.

The move came after days of frenzied parleys by OpenAI with several people to head the firm, which first appointed the company chief technology officer Mira Murati as the interim chief after Altman's ouster, but days later replaced her with ex-Twitch chief Emmett Shears as the CEO. He lasted in the post three days.

Altman, who in the interim period joined Microsoft's new advanced AI research team along with Brockman, said he will be working on building a strong partnership with Microsoft – a major investor in OpenAI -- upon his return.

Altman's ouster invoked a mutiny-style insurrection among his OpenAI colleagues, hundreds of whom, including founder-member Ilya Sutskever, signed a letter demanding his return and resignation of the original board.

The days-long drama brought out in the open the in-fight at the company, which, being at the forefront of AI research, has a lot to answer in way of safety of its AI products.

The change in board members also betrayed the strong opinions several of the previous members held against the approach Altman took in running the firm, with at least one, Helen Toner, publishing a research paper on AI safety, which evoked a stern dissension by Altman.

With Quora CEO D’Angelo being the sole holdover from the previous board, OpenAI has sent a message that it has, at least for now, decided to throw its lot behind Altman and his putative plans for expansion, allowing AI risks voiced by the previous board members to simmer on the backburner.

Bret Taylor, a former CEO of Salesforce, will head the new OpenAI board, with Larry Summers, a former US Treasury Secretary, as the third member.

"We are encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board. We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance. Sam, Greg, and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OAI leadership team in ensuring OAI continues to thrive and build on its mission.

"We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a post on X.


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