Three senior researchers have quit from artificial intelligence firm OpenAI following the dismissal of its CEO Sam Altman, The Information reported, citing multiple people familiar with the situation.
Altman, who cofounded OpenAI in 2015, was informed by the company’s board that he was fired during a video call on Friday.
In a statement announcing the decision, OpenAI said it no longer had “confidence” in Altman’s ability to lead the company, adding that he was “not consistently candid in his communications.”
Following the news, Jakub Pachocki, the director of research at OpenAI; Aleksander Madry, the head of a team that analyzes AI risks; and Szymon Sidor, a researcher who had been at the firm for seven years, told associates at OpenAI that they had quit, The Information reported.
Earlier this year, Altman credited Pachocki for his contribution to the creation of GPT-4, writing in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that “the overall leadership and technical vision of Jakub Pachocki for the pretraining effort was remarkable and we wouldn’t be here without it.”
OpenAI cofounder and president Greg Brockman also said he was stepping down from the company following the announcement.
Brockman said in a post on X that he was “super proud of what we’ve all built together since starting in my apartment 8 years ago … but based on today’s news, I quit.”
Brockman later shared a brief timeline of events on X, outlining how Altman’s dismissal had played out and the role of Ilya Sutskever, one of the company’s cofounders and its chief scientist. “Last night Sam got a message from Ilya asking to talk on Friday at noon. Sam joined the Google Meet and all of the executives were there except Greg. Ilya tells Sam that he will be fired and that news will come out soon. ” he wrote.
Following the chaotic reshuffle, Sutzkever reportedly tried to calm his staff.
At an all-hands meeting held after Altman’s departure, Sutzkever answered questions from employees about whether the layoffs amounted to a “coup d’état,” according to a transcript of the meeting seen by The Information. “I understand why you chose that word, but I don’t agree with it. This was a board meeting its obligations to the nonprofit organization’s mission to enable OpenAI to create AGI that benefits all of humanity,” Sutzkever said.
Another employee questioned whether one of the world’s most important companies should be run “behind the scenes,” which Sutzkever said was “not ideal.”
Under Altman’s leadership, OpenAI launched ChatGPT, a groundbreaking AI chatbot, and received a $10 billion investment from Microsoft.
Last week, the company announced the latest version of ChatGPT at its first developer conference.
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