OpenAI loses two more leaders — what does this mean for AI safety?

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In the same week that OpenAI commanded global attention for releasing its latest AI model, prominent executives Ilya Sutskever and Jan Leike announced they were leaving the company. Coupled with Andrzej Karpathi's February departure, it appears that the people most committed to safe, human-centered AI development have left the company.

Has the top name in AI lost its brake pedal in the fierce race to dominate a massively disruptive industry?

A failed coup

It was as early as 2023 when SuitSecure, the co-founder and former chief scientist, was credited with masterminding a controversial move to oust CEO Sam Altman over alleged concerns that AI security protocols would be compromised. There were cavalry about. His dramatic dismissal led to sensational headlines and widespread speculation, but Altman was reinstated a week later.

Suitscure soon issued an apology and resigned from OpenAI's board—and hasn't made any public statements or appearances since.

In fact, when OpenAI presented its much-hyped product update on Monday, Sutskever was conspicuously absent.

Suitscure announced his official departure just two days later. His resignation statement was cordial, as was Altman's public admission.

“After nearly a decade, I have decided to leave OpenAI,” Sutskever wrote. “The company's momentum is nothing short of miraculous, and I believe that OpenAI will create AGI that is both safe and beneficial under the leadership of (Sam Altman, Greg Brockman and Mira Murthy).

“It was an honor and a privilege to work together, and I will miss everyone dearly,” he said, adding that he is moving on to focus on a personally meaningful project.

This is very sad for me. Ilya is easily one of the greatest minds of our generation, a guiding light of our field, and a dear friend,” said Sam Altman. “It wouldn't have happened without Open AI.” Also responded to Suitscure's announcement with a short message.

Shortly after, OpenAI announced that Jakub Panochi would replace Sutskever. Pinucci previously served as director of research and had a more technical role, focusing mostly on measuring AI.

But there may be more to the changing of the guard. When Suitscure announced his resignation, he only followed a few Twitter accounts, including OpenAI and a dachshund meme account. Someone named Adam Silk, a self-described “AI centrist,” responded to the announcement, suggesting that Suitscure ignore any non-disclosure agreements it may still be subject to and humanity. may share inside information on behalf of

Suitscure followed Silk after his comment… then Unfollowed her after a few hours.

As it turned out, Suitskewer wasn't the only one to walk out. A few hours later, John Leake—who co-founded OpenAI's “Super Alignment” team with Sutskever to ensure ethical, long-term AI development—resigned with a chilling tweet saying simply: Said, “I have resigned.”

No joy, no praise for OpenAI, and no response from OpenAI executives.

Leike worked at Google's DeepMind before joining OpenAI. At the latter firm, the Super Alignment team focused on ensuring that advanced systems in which AI is expected to match or exceed human intelligence remain aligned with human values ​​and intentions.

However, not much is known about this group of AI safety sentries. Aside from the two leaders, OpenAI has not provided any additional information about the unit other than the fact that there are other “researchers and engineers.” [its] Researchers from the previous alignment team as well as other teams across the company.

Salk also commented on Leakey's resignation, expressing his concern about the timing of the events.

“Seeing Jaan go so soon after Ilya does not bode well for the safe passage of humanity,” he tweeted.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Decrypt.

The departures come months after OpenAI co-founder Andrej Karpathi left the company in February, saying he wanted to pursue personal projects. Karpathy worked as a Research Scientist at OpenAI and was involved in various projects and breakthroughs ranging from computer vision applications to AI assistants while training at ChatGPT. He took a five-year hiatus from the company between 2017 and 2022 to lead AI development at Tesla.

With these three departures, OpenAI is left without some of the most important minds pursuing an ethical approach to AGI.

Finished, new deals in

There are signs that Altman's ouster from failure overcame resistance to more lucrative but morally clouded opportunities.

Shortly after Altman was reinstated, for example, OpenAI loosened restrictions on using its tech for potentially harmful applications such as weapons development.

In addition to the deal with the Pentagon, OpenAI also opened a plugin store to enable anyone to design and share personalized AI assistants, effectively reducing direct surveillance. More recently, the company began “eating” the creation of adult content.

The waning power of ethics advocates and guidelines extends beyond Open AI. Microsoft axed its entire ethics and society team in January, and Google sidelined its responsible AI task force the same month. Meta, meanwhile, is winding down his moral AI crew. The three tech giants are meanwhile in a mad dash to dominate the AI ​​market.

There is clear cause for concern. AI products are already massively mainstream, a social phenomenon with billions of daily interactions. It seems increasingly likely that unconnected AI will negatively impact the development of future generations in business, political, community and even family affairs.

The rise of philosophical movements such as “affective accelerationism”—which values ​​rapid development over ethical concerns—adds to these concerns.

For now, the main bastion of caution appears to be a mix of open source development, voluntary participation in AI safety alliances — such as the Frontier Model Forum or ML Commons — and full regulation by the government in the UK from the AI ​​Act. On G7's Code of AI Conduct.

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