Specifically, the ouster of one Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI. And shortly thereafter, the board reinstated him as CEO.
As of this writing, the public’s understanding is still pretty vague as to just what exactly led to this. Was it because of some scandalous morals-clause violation? The board’s letter identified a lack of transparency as a problem.
However, there are plenty of breadcrumbs to follow to reach multiple likely conclusions about the multiple likely factors influencing the board’s decision.
We will go into this, along with the possible impacts that these developments will have on users of ChatGPT, which includes plenty of business owners who have included it in their daily operations.
Now, just why did OpenAI fire Sam Altman? We will go into all the key events of the recent chaotic happenings at OpenAI.
The Most Likely Reasons That OpenAI Fired Altman
We swear the following is not just some block Internet gossip, because these possible reasons directly connect to the fate of ChatGPT, and by extension the benefits that business owners have been reaping from this widely available and affordable chatbot.
Right off the bat, we must acknowledge that OpenAI founded itself as a nonprofit, not as a money-making venture. To this day, many of the key players in OpenAI’s upper management and the board itself (which includes A.I. ethicists, and that many staff members simply want to give the Altman treatment to) still share the goals of putting A.I. safety over innovation and profits.
The most likely reason is that OpenAI’s board wanted someone who cares less for profits, and more for keeping with the original vision of the company.
Meanwhile, OpenAI was chewing through interim CEO’s while dealing with an internal crisis: the threat of close to 90% of OpenAI employees leaving the nonprofit to join the big leagues at Microsoft.
Predictably, they brought Altman back, and the board of directors underwent a significant casting change.
All of this raises the question: How will these developments affect ChatGPT users?
The Potential Impact on Business Owners
Since the new board of directors includes the onetime CEO of Quora and another executive from SalesForce, it is more likely that OpenAI will continue down the road of creating profitable A.I.
This means that major upgrades to ChatGPT, DALL-E, and the like could come in 2024.
If anything, this is more likely to happen than if the ouster and reinstatement had never happened in the first place. This is because the board of directors was responsible for firing Altman. Now that the new board of directors seems to be more in line with Altman’s ambitions, it is highly likely that employees will be accelerating the pace of developing their automated tools.
Considering the Worst-Case Scenario
Assuming that the worst-case-scenario exodus actually happened, what would the outlook have looked like?
We submit that this is still worth considering, even though it did not happen. This restoration of order may not entirely quell the internal division at OpenAI. Who knows, we may be looking at a situation like this a few months down the line.
This writer predicts that OpenAI would have lost its status as a hot commodity for venture capitalists looking for big ROI’s, but may not exactly fold under. On name and history alone, there are likely thousands of programmers who would quit their jobs in a heartbeat to join this already legendary company.
For users of ChatGPT, the breakneck pace of upscaling that product enjoyed over the past year would have slowed down significantly.
There would have been fewer significant upgrades to ChatGPT and more just tweaking of what is already there.
Given Microsoft’s huge stake in ChatGPT, it would be unlikely that the chatbot simply folded.
If the employee exodus indeed happened, there may be some ChatGPT outages to account for in the near future. You may indeed want to start looking into using Bard or other chatbots in the interim.
Another thing to consider is that this may open up quite a bit of security vulnerabilities for users. As always, do not give the chatbot any information that could be considered sensitive.
Why Sam Altman’s Role at OpenAI Is Impactful
If you are wondering whether the guy was on the dole following his firing, be apprised that he had secured a role at Microsoft.
Any conflict-of-interest issues—if any such exist—that arise from the fact that Microsoft is the majority investor in OpenAI must not be that bad for such a move to occur.
Altman would have been in charge of an A.I. research division at Microsoft, with a fair deal of autonomy for deciding the direction there.
He was, after all, one of the driving forces from OpenAI being a sort of rich idealists’ pet project to a major force in the world of artificial intelligence.
Much of this came from Altman’s business-oriented strategy that was at times at odds with the nonprofit aims of the board.
For instance, it is unlikely that OpenAI would have secured billions and billions of dollars of funding from Microsoft without his help.
His leadership made the company turn more commercial. If this was the 1990’s, people would have been calling him a sellout.
OpenAI Employees’ Threatened Exodus
Sellout or not, his presence was highly impactful on the current state of A.I., as huge numbers of people use ChatGPT on a daily basis.
It also placed plenty of employees in a position where they could make a ton of money if they stayed with the company.
As mentioned above, there was an ultimatum at stake here. Roughly 700 of OpenAI’s 800 or so employees pledged to leave OpenAI for assuredly more lucrative positions at Microsoft, lest the board does not reinstate Sam Altman.
Apparently this was enough for OpenAI to make an official decision about reinstating Altman. The board was also changed, where some of the new key players have business leadership experience. It ought to be clear that OpenAI’s commercial goals will likely take precedence moving forward.
So, you can likely expect more ChatGPT upgrades now.
Even then, it is easy to imagine that OpenAI’s reputation will be affected by this open display of internal division within the company.
But what is clear is that the A.I. industry will be profoundly affected by what happened here.