Sam Altman fired from OpenAI. Here are the people who made this decision – Technologies
This behavior by the board is even more surprising given the unusual nature of OpenAI’s corporate structure, where directors (board members) do not receive shares or other remuneration; Altman himself only held shares indirectly through a “small” investment made by Y Combinator, where he was previously CEO.
Under OpenAI’s corporate governance, the directors’ key fiduciary duty is not to maintain shareholder value, but to the company’s mission to create secure AGI, or artificial general intelligence, created for the benefit of “the public.” [„that is broadly beneficial”]. The company said profits were secondary to that mission. OpenAI first began publishing the names of its executives on its website in July 2023, following the departures of Reid Hoffman, Shivon Zilis and Will Hurd earlier this year (according to a version of the website archived on the Wayback Machine).
One AI-focused venture capitalist noted that OpenAI’s nonprofit board lacked traditional governance after Hoffman’s departure. “These are not the kind of business or operational leaders you want in the most important private company in the world,” he said.
This is who made the decision to fire Altman and remove Brockman from the board of directors. [Aktualizacja: jak donosi The Information przed zwolnieniem Altman nie otrzymał prawa głosu. Brockman opublikował swoją wersję wydarzeń na X/d.Twitterze, która wskazywała, że zarząd działał również bez jego wiedzy].
OpenAI did not respond to a request for comment.
Members of the OpenAI supervisory board that decided to fire Sam Altman
Adam D’Angelo, CEO of Quora, joined the OpenAI board in April 2018. He wrote at the time: “I continue to believe that work on general AI (with security in mind) is both important and undervalued.” In a January interview with Forbes, D’Angelo argued that one of OpenAI’s strengths is its capped-for-profit business structure and non-profit control. “We do not pay ourselves profits when the organization belongs to the five largest technology companies [w USA]” D’Angelo said. “This is something that is fundamentally different and I hope that we can do a lot more good for the world than just become another corporation that grows to this size.”
Tasha McCauley is an adjunct senior management scientist at the RAND Corporation, a job she started in early 2023, according to her LinkedIn profile. Previously, she co-founded Fellow Robots, a startup she launched with a colleague from Singularity University, where she served as director of the innovation lab, and then co-founded GeoSim Systems, a geospatial technology startup, where she served as CEO until last year. Along with her husband Joseph Gorden-Levitt, she was a signatory of the Asilomar AI Principles, a set of 23 principles for managing artificial intelligence published in 2017. (Altman, OpenAI co-founder Iyla Sutskever and former board member Elon Musk also signed the document.)
McCauley He currently serves on the advisory board of the UK-based International Artificial Intelligence Governance Center along with Helen Toner, director of OpenAI. She is also associated with the Effective Altruism movement through the Center for Effective Altruism; McCauley sits on the UK board of the Effective Ventures Foundation, its parent organization.
Ilya Sutskever is currently the only OpenAI co-founder on the board. He joined the company after earning his PhD in computer science from the University of Toronto, co-founding a project called DNNResearch, and then working as a research scientist at Google until the end of 2015. He was the initial research director of OpenAI and became chief scientist in 2018. Sutskever co-authored a major paper on neural networks with legendary AI scientist Geoffrey Hinton in 2012 and helped lead the AlphaGo project, which used artificial intelligence to win a game of an ancient and complex board game, a key milestone in the history of modern artificial intelligence research.
In July, OpenAI announced that Suskever would co-chair a team that would acquire 20%. OpenAI’s computing power and will focus on “supersetting” – helping to develop technological solutions to supervise artificial intelligence if it one day becomes smarter than humans. Sutskever’s most recent post on X (formerly Twitter) was on October 7, when he wrote: “If you value intelligence above all other human qualities, you will have [sic!] bad time”.
Helen Toner, director of strategy and basic research grants at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technologies, joined the OpenAI board in September 2021. Her role is to think about security in a world where OpenAI’s activities have a global impact. “I greatly appreciate Helen’s deep reflection on the long-term risks and impacts of artificial intelligence,” Brockman said in a statement at the time.
Toner recently made headlines as an expert on Chinese artificial intelligence and the potential role of AI regulation in the geopolitical showdown with the Asian giant. According to her corporate biography, Toner lived in Beijing between her job at Open Philanthropy and her current job at CSET, researching the artificial intelligence ecosystem. In June, she co-authored an essay for Foreign Affairs titled “The Illusion of China’s AI Prowess” [pol. „Iluzja chińskiej przewagi w dziedzinie sztucznej inteligencji”]in which she argued — contrary to Altman’s quoted testimony in the U.S. Senate — that regulation would not slow the U.S. in the race between the two nations.
Former board directors (who were not involved in Altman’s firing)
Reid Hoffman was one of OpenAI’s early investors, but the former LinkedIn co-founder and billionaire invested funds from his charitable foundation in the startup, not his Greylock venture capital fund. (The first venture capitalist in OpenAI was Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures, a sincere OpenAI supporter but not a board member.) Long-time supporter of OpenAI, even as he invested in many newer AI startups. In March 2023, Hoffman announced in a LinkedIn post that he was stepping down from the board to avoid a potential conflict of interest. The decision involved “months of conversations with Sam, Greylock colleagues and friends,” he wrote. “I remain an ally of OpenAI and am ready to do whatever I can to help the organization and its mission [stworzenia] artificial intelligence beneficial to humanity,” he added.
Will Hurd, a former congressman from Texas, joined the OpenAI board in May 2021 to provide public policy expertise. “He has a deep understanding of both artificial intelligence and public policy, which are critical to a successful future of artificial intelligence,” Altman wrote at the time. However, Hurd resigned in July, a month after announcing his campaign for the 2024 Republican nomination. By October, he had also dropped out of that race.
Holden Karnofsky, director of AI strategy at Open Philanthropy, joined the OpenAI board in 2017 following the nonprofit’s recommendation to award the AI company a $30 million grant over three years. At the time, Karnofsky was executive director of Open Philanthropy (he briefly took a leave of absence in early 2023 and has since returned to lead AI risk initiatives). Karnofsky is the husband of Anthropic co-founder Daniela Amodea, who was executive director at OpenAI when Open Philanthropy announced the grant decision. The statement regarding the team members’ personal relationships (so-called relationship disclosures) also stated that “OpenAI researchers Dario Amodei and Paul Christiano are technical advisors to Open Philanthropy and live in the same house as Holden. Additionally, Holden is engaged to Dario’s sister, Daniela.” Karnofsky stepped down from OpenAI’s board in 2021 when Amodei left the company to found Anthropic.
Elon Musk, who runs X, SpaceX, Tesla, Neuralink and Boring Company, co-founded OpenAI in 2015, he resigned from the board in 2018 – after declaring financing in the amount of USD 1 billion. Corporate documents, however, showed that only $15 million came from Musk, TechCrunch reported. Musk claimed to be “the reason OpenAI exists” and openly criticized the company. He left the board, citing a conflict of interest with Tesla.
Shivon Zilis is the director of operations and special projects at Elon Musk’s brain implant company, Neuralink. Zilis joined OpenAI as an advisor in 2016 and as a board member in 2020, but was expected to leave her position following Musk’s comments criticizing the company. (Zilis and Musk are the parents of twins Strider and Azure). “I still don’t know how the non-profit organization to which I donated $100 million. somehow resulted in a profit with a market capitalization of $30 billion. If it’s legal, why doesn’t everyone do it?” – Musk wrote on Twitter. Zilis currently serves on the board of Shield AI.