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Okay, Never Mind. Sam Altman Returns to OpenAI

The OpenAI CEO is back after a brief absence.

Last week, we reported on Sam Altman’s firing from OpenAI and his consequent relocation to Microsoft. At the time it all seemed like a done deal. The board of directors at OpenAI agreed to oust Altman, and days later, the former ex-CEO was offered the opportunity to head up Microsoft’s AI development.

That’s all changed now. After an intense corporate battle, Altman is back at OpenAI. The former board of directors at OpenAI ridded Altman on the basis of his apparent lack of candidness in his communication, and they refused to comment on the matter further. However, Altman is back at the helm and with a new board of directors. It’s been a busy weekend.

Much of the details on his firing remain unclear, but dozens of OpenAI employees threatened to quit following Altman’s departure, which probably had something to do with his reinstatement. Conversations over generative AI and its needed regulations have been consistent in the tech world over the last year since ChatGPT’s release in November 2022. Since then, Altman has been called upon by the media and lawmakers to discuss the capacities, limits, and potential dangers of AI.

It’s sometimes been unclear what Altman thinks about generative AI. Is he a tech optimist or a dystopian doomsayer? As one of the leading architects in AI technology, he clearly believes that it has its manifold purposes and uses. But in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law back in May, he said that AI “can go quite wrong” and that it needs federal limits to “mitigate” potential harms, which might include misinformation and deceptive medical advice.

OpenAI is creating technology that, in Altman’s view, apparently needs to be fairly tightly regulated. And yet…he’s responsible for creating it. Should he be responsible for AI’s potential problems? Is it the government’s job to regulate and control what his company built? As Altman resumes his shortly vacant post at OpenAI, that dilemma may just continue but with greater stakes.

Peter Biles

Writer and Editor, Center for Science & Culture
Peter Biles graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. He is a prolific fiction writer and has written stories and essays for a variety of publications. He was born and raised in Ada, Oklahoma and is a contributing writer and editor for Mind Matters.

Okay, Never Mind. Sam Altman Returns to OpenAI