Sam Altman and Open AI.

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if you haven’t been paying attention to the news headlines you might have missed the drama that rocked the tech and AI industry for a week.
Breaking news: “Uh related to open AI Steve Kovak joins us now this is a stunner uh in some respect Steve yeah Sam Alman is out as CEO of open AI we just got this announcement it’s a script even Hollywood would die to write a superstar CEO on one side a disg grunt board on the other caught in the middle were 770 employees and the future of artificial intelligence.”
It wasn’t another major AI breakthrough but a soap opera of sorts all occurring within the company Open AI. The same company that’s behind chat GPT their CEO Sam Altman was abruptly fired from the company’s board on November 17th the news stunned everyone in the Tech Community. But what immediately followed was pure chaos replacement CEOs were being appointed almost daily and there was an internal Mass Revolt from employees. For those of you who are unaware that who is Sam Altman? he’s the co-founder of open AI and a very prominent figure in the tech industry he started a global race for AI dominance even surpassing some of the largest companies out there so when Sam was suddenly fired and then rumored to move over to Microsoft and then returned all within a matter of days everyone is left scratching their head what happened here one of the reasons might even be AGI artificial general intelligence one of the Holy Grails of all of technology so let’s get into.

What happened:

Imagine that you’re Sam Altman. You’re in Las Vegas, enjoying the festivities of a Formula 1 race on the weekend. You’re in your hotel room when you get a Google Meet link. It’s from your chief engineer and board member, Ilia Satova. However, as soon as you join the video call, you realize that something is very wrong. All the other board members are there except for your close friend and co-founder, Greg Brockman. They tell you, in a matter of minutes, that you’re fired from the company. They don’t give you any clear reason, just some vague accusation of dishonesty. Then, they hang up, and you’re locked out of your computer. This is how it happened for Sam Altman on November 17th, 2023. But he wasn’t the only one. Greg Brockman, another co-founder, was also demoted but asked to stay at the company. Brockman was so outraged that he decided to quit on the spot. The board appointed Mira Morati, the CTO, as interim CEO. She was the only one who knew about the plan beforehand. The news was soon to be made public in a blog post. The board said that Sam was fired because he “was not consistently candid in his communication with the board.” They didn’t elaborate any further, leaving everyone to wonder what really happened behind the scenes. Was it a hostile takeover, a corporate coup? How could the board fire someone so influential without any warning or notice? Part of the answer lies in OpenAI’s unique corporate structure, and there are some other theories as well. Let’s see what happened next.

The news caused a huge uproar in the AI community and beyond. Greg Brockman tweeted his support for Sam and his disappointment with the board. Many people joined him, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Microsoft is OpenAI’s key partner and has invested $13 billion for a 49% stake in its for-profit wing. Since they didn’t have any seats on the board, Microsoft had no say in the matter. They could only watch from the sidelines. Inside OpenAI, however, there was pandemonium. Employees demanded more clarification, but the board remained tight-lipped. Meanwhile, rumors circulated that Microsoft had already extended an offer to Sam and Greg to join their ranks and establish a new AI research team. Sam’s supporters were ready to jump ship, and at the same time, they were plotting his return.

In a surprising twist, the interim CEO, Mira Morati, had turned her back on the board and joined Team Sam. Over the next few days, with her help, Altman met with the board the next day to discuss his possible return. The meeting went on late into the night, and the verdict? Well, Sam was still out. The board did not have a change of heart—that was everyone on the board except Ilia Satova. In a surprising twist, the architect of Sam’s dismissal himself made an unexpected U-turn. On Monday, he expressed regret for his participation in the board’s actions and aligned himself with Sam. Talk about a role reversal. By then, the board had already appointed Emmett Shear, former Twitch CEO, as the new OpenAI Chief. Emmett himself was surprised and pledged to bring clarity to the situation. He was going to initiate an independent investigation to find out why his predecessor was terminated.

In response to the new CEO’s appointment, 747 of 770 employees sent a scathing open letter to the board. They collectively issued an ultimatum: you resign, or we’re all going to join Microsoft. In this fluid, turbulent scenario, the OpenAI headquarters stood deserted, devoid of anyone. There was no sign of a clear resolution on the horizon.

Sam Altman Return:

As the tech World watched most people thought that this was going to drag on but then suddenly Sam Altman got his job back on the 22nd of November only 5 days after he was fired open AI announced that they reached an agreement with Sam and they had a new board too Sam posted on his ex account that he was excited to return to open Ai and continue the strong partnership with Microsoft Greg Brockman also came back into the fold announcing his return with a picture except for Adam D Angelo the old board members had all left they were replaced by Brett Taylor the former co-ceo of Salesforce and Larry Summers the former treasury secretary EMT Shia who was the interim CEO for just 72 hours seemed to be happy with the outcome judging from his tweet so just as abruptly as it started the 5-day long Saga ended with Sam Altman back at the wheel.

sam altman and openai

why this happened:

Now, the major question is: why did the board fire their CEO in the first place? The answer is complicated and murky; there is no official explanation, only rumors and speculation so far. But based on some reports, we can piece together some possible factors. Please keep in mind that this is just the situation at the time of writing.

The board claimed that they had some disagreements with Sam about how the company was run and also that Sam wasn’t always truthful to them. This seems like a bit of a weak reason to fire a CEO who was negotiating a deal to sell shares to investors at a whopping $86 billion valuation. That should be a big achievement for any company, but OpenAI is not a typical company. I’ve explained these aspects in more detail in previous videos on OpenAI and Sam Altman, so I’m not going to repeat myself here. You can check out those episodes if you want to on the channel.

But, in a nutshell, OpenAI was founded in 2015 as a nonprofit with a mission to create artificial intelligence that would benefit humanity. At its formation, it had a celebrity team of founders, including Elon Musk. Musk would leave in 2018 due to a conflict of interest. Since then, Sam Altman has been leading the firm. He established a for-profit arm that raised billions from Microsoft. The main reason was to fund the expensive research and development for their AI models. Sam Altman was in charge of the for-profit section. However, the whole firm was set up in such a way that the nonprofit faction had the ultimate power and was controlled by the board members.

This odd structure left Sam and Microsoft at the mercy of the board, and they were skeptical of corporate expansion. Besides Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, other board members included Ilya Sutskever (we’ve already mentioned him quite a few times now; he is a prominent researcher in the AI field and is very vocal about AI safety), and then there’s Adam D’Angelo, a former Facebook executive and co-founder of Quora. There were other notable names on the board. It would seem like there’s an ethos struggle within the company. Does OpenAI go all out and try to make as much money as possible, or do they stick to their core value of making AI that will benefit humanity?

Sam Altman’s side quests:

Sam has a knack for spotting trends, though he’s been working on some other side projects that were beyond the reach of OpenAI’s safety-conscious board. One project that raised some eyebrows was Worldcoin. It was a crypto venture that used eyeball scanning technology and was marketed as a potential solution for AI-induced job losses, a stepping stone to universal basic income. He was also toying with the idea of launching his own AI chip venture to reduce the over-reliance on Nvidia. He reached out to sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East for a potential investment in the realm of tens of billions of dollars. Additionally, he pitched to SoftBank Group, another multi-billion dollar investment, this time in a company he planned to start with former Apple design maestro Johnny I. The focus was AI-oriented hardware. These projects were seen as distractions by some of the board members. They wanted their CEO to focus on OpenAI and its core mission. To escalate matters even more, Sam found himself in conflict with Sukova, who formed a new team in July within the company dedicated to controlling future “superintelligent AI systems.” The dispute reached its boiling point in October when, according to a source familiar with the relationship, Altman made a move to reduce Sukova’s role in the company. Fast forward to November 6th, the day that OpenAI hosted its first developer conference in San Francisco. Sam Altman made several announcements regarding customized versions of ChatGPT. It’s going to enable users to make task-specific chatbots. These custom GPTs might operate independently in the future. That’s a major red flag for safety concerns. These announcements were the last nail in the coffin. They had had enough. Sam was going too far, and for the rest of the story, we know how that all panned out.

Possible AGI breakthrough:

The last reason for a possible AGI breakthrough, according to Reuters, involves an additional concern simmering within the company. The report suggests that some staff researchers penned an internal letter to the board cautioning about the discovery of an advanced AI with the potential to pose a threat to humanity. These researchers flagged the potential danger of this new model in their letter but did not specify the exact safety concerns. There has been no official statement from OpenAI regarding these letters, but they did acknowledge a project called Q.

“Because, first, I need to be real with you; it is very hard to know right now what Qar actually is. We know from Reuters’ reporting that, according to their sources, it may be some kind of powerful artificial intelligence discovery at OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. There are fears it is so powerful it could threaten humanity. That sounds really dramatic, but this discovery was alarming enough that, at some point, after a group of OpenAI researchers took their concern to the board, the CEO Sam Altman was fired.”

Now it gets a little murky here, but some believe that this project could be the highly anticipated AGI or artificial general intelligence, capable of outperforming humans in any economically viable task.

“The day will come when the digital brains that live inside our computers will become as good and even better than our own biological brains. We call such an AI an AGI, artificial general intelligence. It was a step towards artificial general intelligence. I know it sounds complicated, but simply put, it’s artificial intelligence that is more powerful than humans. Now, OpenAI staffers believe that this could threaten humanity, so some of them wrote a letter to the board. This could also be the reason for the firing of Sam Altman.”

In my personal opinion, I would be shocked to see this. I would think something like this would be at least 5 years away, but who knows what’s going on behind the scenes. Anyway, just over a week ago, Altman hinted at a significant breakthrough during a summit in San Francisco. Was he alluding to this discovery? No one knows for sure. With generative AI falling into the hands of ever more people, there’s bound to be more junk emails and spam calls. It doesn’t bode well for online security, and this isn’t to mention data brokers. Right now, your personal information is being sold online without you even knowing it. This information can be used to send unsolicited content, sell your browsing habits, and even commit identity theft.


All in all, in the end, it appears that Microsoft and Samman are the biggest winners in this whole debacle. Altman will continue to lead the company, now with a board that is, in theory, more supportive of his vision. Is this going to be good or bad for the rest of us? We’ll have to wait and see. Satya Nadela has also voiced his support; however, the power tussle and internal drama don’t exactly bode well. OpenAI is the company that started the generative AI Revolution; they’re supposed to set the standards while this industry is in its infancy. AI can be a dangerous tool if used wrongly, so governments and policymakers are watching. This is not the kind of spectacle that you want onlookers to see. For people like us, it’s just another episode of drama, a tad amusing, and a smidge terrifying. I say terrifying because in Elon Musk’s reply to Ilya Sutskever’s regret tweet, he said, “Why did you take such a drastic action if OpenAI is doing something potentially dangerous to humanity? The world needs to know.” And that’s kind of true. If OpenAI has indeed created something dangerous behind the scenes, that paints the chaotic week in a totally different light. So, what’s your take on this? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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