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OpenAI Drama: Microsoft Hires Sam Altman and Greg Brockman for Advanced AI Research Team

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The past weekend has been filled with high drama at OpenAI, culminating in Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's announcement that Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, along with their colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team. Microsoft, the biggest investor in OpenAI, currently uses ChatGPT to power its Bing Chat/Copilot services.

Multiple CEO Changes and Board Resignations

In a surprising turn of events, the OpenAI board chose Emmett Shear as the company's CEO just hours before Nadella's announcement. Altman was fired by OpenAI on Friday, with Mira Murati briefly acting as interim CEO. However, reports over the weekend suggested that Altman may return as CEO, and he confirmed negotiations for a new deal at OpenAI headquarters.

Reasons Behind the Rift

The exact cause of the conflict between the Altman/Brockman side and Ilya Sutskever remains unclear, leading to speculation and curiosity about what transpired. The events between Friday and Monday seem almost surreal, resembling a ChatGPT hallucination.

Altman's Ouster Despite OpenAI's Success

Altman's removal from OpenAI comes as a surprise, especially considering the success of the company's recent DevDay event. Altman announced various new ChatGPT features during the event, including support for custom GPTs and a storefront for them. The subsequent launch of ChatGPT Plus resulted in sold-out capacity.

Microsoft's Response and New Hires

Despite the turmoil, Microsoft remains a key player in the OpenAI story. Nadella hired unnamed colleagues of Altman and Brockman to join Microsoft's newly formed AI division. Reports suggest that several OpenAI staff members quit following Shear's appointment as CEO.

Microsoft's Unawareness of the Coup

Surprisingly, Nadella and Microsoft were unaware of the coup at OpenAI until a minute before it was announced to the world. This turn of events likely did not please Microsoft, given its significant investment in OpenAI.

Conflict of Interest and OpenAI's Mission

The conflict between Altman's faction and the OpenAI board appears to revolve around a difference in interests. Altman and his supporters sought to monetize ChatGPT quickly, while the board remains focused on OpenAI's mission of developing safe AI for the world.

Speculation and Confusion Surrounding OpenAI

Speculation about recent breakthroughs, such as GPT-5 and achieving AGI, abounds, along with memes jokingly suggesting that GPT-5 is the new CEO of OpenAI. However, the truth behind these speculations may remain hidden for some time, causing confusion for generative AI products like ChatGPT.

Potential Developments and Altman's Future Plans

Altman's departure from OpenAI raises questions about potential developments and his future plans. Rumors had previously circulated about Altman's discussions with Jony Ive regarding a breakthrough ChatGPT device, with a potential backing of $1 billion. Other reports suggested Altman was seeking funding from the Middle East to create a new chip venture to rival Nvidia or even starting a new AI company.

Microsoft's Role and Infrastructure

Microsoft's position as a leading AI developer makes it an ideal company to support Altman's ambitions. With its vast resources and infrastructure, Microsoft can facilitate the development of AI products, including GPT-5-like models and AGI. Additionally, Microsoft has the capability to create ChatGPT-first hardware and the necessary chips for generative AI.

Waiting for the Dust to Settle

For now, all we can do is wait for the dust to settle and observe how Altman's departure from OpenAI will impact the future of generative AI, both in the short and long term.