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Sam Altman back at the head of OpenAI, a few days after his ouster

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Apr18,2024

 Sam Altman back at the head of OpenAI, a few days later his eviction

F. Froger/Z9, for FranceSoir

Less than a week after being let go from OpenAI, Silicon Valley star Sam Altman is back at the head of the start-up behind the ChatGPT conversational robot, whose governance will be fundamentally renewed.

“We have reached an agreement in principle for Sam to return to OpenAI as CEO ” with changes in the board of directors, the first members of which will be Bret Taylor (president), Larry Summers and Adam D'Angelo, explained the company in a message posted just after 10:00 p.m. Tuesday evening in California, or 7:00 a.m. Wednesday in Paris (06:00 GMT).

“We are working on the details. Thank you for your patience during this time,” added the flagship artificial intelligence (AI) start-up in this message.

Sam Altman, whom Microsoft announced on Monday to hire , three days after his dismissal, immediately claimed to have the support of Satya Nadella, the boss of the tech giant, to return to the head of OpenAI.

“With the new board and Satya’s support, I look forward to returning to OpenAI and building a strong partnership” with Microsoft, he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

His colleague Greg Brockman, former chairman of the board of directors who followed him to Microsoft, also announced his return to X.

OpenAI was founded in 2015 as a non-profit association lucrative. Since then, it has partnered with Microsoft, which invested billions of dollars and gave it access to its IT infrastructure to enable it to develop ever more efficient AI models.

The IT giant is also a minority shareholder — at an undisclosed level — in the private arm of OpenAI, controlled by the original foundation.

Interviewed by Bloomberg on Tuesday, Satya Nadella did not rule out a return of Sam Altman at OpenAI, saying it would then require “governance changes, to avoid sudden changes where we would not be in the loop.”

The surprise ousting of Sam Altman on Friday caused an earthquake in Silicon Valley, reminding some of the 1985 dismissal of Steve Jobs by Apple, of which he took over years later.

According to a letter published by several American media, nearly 700 of OpenAI's 770 employees, including the first manager appointed on an interim basis, threatened over the weekend to resign if Sam Altman, 38, did not return.

< p>On Monday, former Twitch boss Emmett Shear, in turn named interim number 1, announced that he was launching an independent audit into the latest events.

The new board of directors, although it remains as small as the previous one, differs drastically in the experience of its first members, all of whom are men.


Bret Taylor, 43, co-creator of Google Maps, is a former executive of software specialist Salesforce. He worked as technical director at Facebook (Meta), and was also a member of the board of directors of Twitter, which became X until the takeover of the social network by Elon Musk.

Larry Summers, 68, professor at Harvard, is the former secretary of the Treasury of the United States, and was chief economist of the World Bank.

Known figure in Silicon Valley, Adam d' Angelo, 39, is one of the survivors of the previous council. He founded the question-and-answer site Quora.

On the other hand, Ilya Sutskever, head of OpenAI, entrepreneur Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner, director of strategy of a research institute in new technologies, are not cited and could have been excluded.

Reputedly very worried about the advances in AI, which he fears will end up pursuing goals in contradiction with those of humanity, Ilya Sutskever said on Monday that he “sincerely regrets (his) participation in the decision of the board of directors” to oust Sam Altman.

The release of the first version of ChatGPT on November 30, 2022 kicked off a race for so-called generative AI, that is to say capable of creating content (text, images, sounds) on request in everyday language.

Generative AI is considered capable of transforming entire sectors of the economy. It arouses enthusiasm, but also strong concerns about its possible danger for democracy (massive disinformation) or employment (replaced professions), in particular.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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