Buoyed with confidence now that he is back with the company he co-founded, Sam Altman this week told OpenAI employees in an internal blog that he has “never been more excited about the future (and) I am extremely grateful for everyone’s hard work in an unclear and unprecedented situation.”
Altman officially returned as CEO on Wednesday, after having been fired by the former board of directors last month in a stunning turn of events that saw him quickly resurface at Microsoft to launch a new AI research team, and just as quickly come back to the company that created ChatGPT.
There will, of course, be a new board, and this one currently consists of former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, who will be chair, economist and former U.S. Secretary Treasurer Lawrence Summers, and Adam D’Angelo, the CEO of Quora, who also sat on the board that voted to fire Altman.
Another member of that board was Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist, who, according to one published report, played a key role in the Nov. 18 firing of both Altman and company president Greg Brockman. He then publicly said he regretted doing so.
“I love and respect Ilya, I think he’s a guiding light of the field and a gem of a human being,” wrote Altman. “I harbour zero ill will towards him. While Ilya will no longer serve on the board, we hope to continue our working relationship and are discussing how he can continue his work at OpenAI.”
Altman told employees the company has three “immediate” priorities:
- “Advancing our research plan and further investing in our full-stack safety efforts, which have always been critical to our work.”
- Continuing to “improve and deploy our products and serve our customers. It’s important that people get to experience the benefits and promise of AI, and have the opportunity to shape it.”
- Taylor, Summers and D’Angelo are working “very hard on the extremely important task of building out a board of diverse perspectives, improving our governance structure and overseeing an independent review of recent events.”
In the same letter, Taylor said that “OpenAI is a more important institution than ever before. ChatGPT has made artificial intelligence a part of daily life for hundreds of millions of people. Its popularity has made AI – its benefits and its risks – central to virtually every conversation about the future of governments, business, and society.
“We understand the gravity of these discussions and the central role of OpenAI in the development and safety of these awe-inspiring new technologies. Each of you plays a critical part in ensuring that we effectively meet these challenges.”