The turmoil at OpenAI continues as more than 500 employees, including Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, have signed a letter threatening mass resignation unless the board reinstates ousted CEO Sam Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman. The letter, reported by Wired and journalist Kara Swisher, reveals that Microsoft has offered positions to all OpenAI employees at a new subsidiary, intensifying the risk of a massive talent drain from OpenAI.
The letter accuses the current board of jeopardizing OpenAI's mission and company, rejecting claims that the organization was advancing too rapidly without regard for safety. The employees demand the reinstatement of Altman and Brockman, coupled with the resignation of the current board. However, with the board already choosing to stay in place and appointing a new CEO, the fate of OpenAI's workforce hangs in the balance.
Despite Sutskever's initial involvement in Altman's removal, he expressed regret on social media, stating, "I deeply regret my participation in the board's actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI." Notably, Sutskever's name is in the letter's list of resignations.
In response to the escalating situation, Microsoft has formed a special "advanced AI research team" to accommodate former OpenAI employees, with Altman leading the division. Microsoft's unusual move signals a significant talent acquisition, as it assures OpenAI employees of available roles within the new venture.
Altman's hiring by Microsoft follows unsuccessful negotiations with OpenAI's board over the weekend. Emmett Shear, former CEO of Twitch, has been named interim CEO, succeeding Mira Murati. Murati, who initially took over after Altman's abrupt firing, is now among the OpenAI employees expressing intent to join Microsoft.
The letter, which appears to have been circulating since Altman's removal, underscores the potential challenges OpenAI faces in retaining its workforce and the extraordinary developments in artificial intelligence research.
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