SAN FRANCISCO: Sam Altman has been ousted as the head of Artificial Intelligence (AI) firm OpenAI by the company’s board, which said it had lost confidence in his ability to lead the company.
The board said Altman had not been “consistently candid with his communications”, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.
Altman had become one of the most high-profile figures in the industry.
In a statement the board said it was grateful for Altman’s contributions but that members believed new leadership was necessary.
“The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI,” the company said, citing “a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities”.
It is not clear what he is alleged to not have been candid about.
On social media, Altman wrote that he had loved his time at the company.
“It was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit. Most of all I loved working with such talented people,” he wrote.
According to OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman, it all took place over hastily-organized Google Meet video conference calls.
He said they were “still trying to figure out exactly what happened” but claimed in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the whole drama unfolded in a matter of hours.
They sat on the company’s relatively small board of just six executives. It is unusual for such a tight team to take such a dramatic decision so quickly, which begs the question: was it personal?
OpenAI is widely seen to be a company at its peak, with lucrative investment pouring in, and ChatGPT which was launched almost exactly one year ago is used by millions.
Altman has been the face of the firm’s rise. More than that, he is seen by many as the face of the industry more widely.
He testified before a US Congress hearing to discuss the opportunities and risks created by the new technology, and also at the world’s first AI Safety Summit, held in the UK at the beginning of November.
The outpouring of support from Silicon Valley bosses shows that he enjoyed the support of the tech industry.
On social media, former Google boss Eric Schmidt called Altman “a hero of mine” and said that he had “changed our collective world forever”.
“I can’t wait to see what he does next. I, and billions of people, will benefit from his future work- it’s going to be simply incredible,” he wrote. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)