OpenAI in crisis, artificial intelligence needs answers

In principle, we agreed that Sam would return to OpenAI as CEO » (…) « We are working on the details. Thank you for your patience during this time “. The end of the crisis in Silicon Valley or the beginning of a big cleanup in the artificial intelligence sector? OpenAI, the flagship of the field, has had days full of events that threaten to have a lasting impact on the future progress of artificial intelligence.

But what happened to the leadership of OpenAI, promising the start-up creating ChatGPT and Dall-E? On Friday, November 17, its management committee announced that it had decided to recall its charisma founder Sam Altman. The reasons for this sudden release still remain unclear. Generative artificial intelligence makes it possible to create texts, images and sounds at a simple request in ordinary language. It is considered a revolution comparable to the advent of the Internet. OpenAI, of which Sam Altman is one of the founders, is the market leader Microsoft as the main investor to several billion dollars. Has he become too enthusiastic or heavy-handed? A few days before his dismissal, while presenting his company’s latest innovations, he said: ” We will be able to do more, create more and have more. As AI integrates everywhere, we’ll all have superpowers on demand. »

Did the founder’s ambitions, as well as AI progress, deserve to be curtailed? The surprise ouster was reminiscent of Steve Jobs’ 1985 firing by Apple – which he took over years later. The weekend negotiations to finalize those layoffs highlighted the company’s dilemma of whether to keep its technology in the hands of “mere” developers or under the hegemony of a charismatic leader like Elon Musk. AI is based on undeniable technology, but also thanks to powerful marketing levers. Can OpenAI do without Sam?

A poker game between tech companies

Over the weekend, she began negotiating for him to return or join another tech company. It was a social media show based on selfies, questions bordering on recklessness… A game of poker between tech companies with almost visible stacks of dollars on the table. Indecency or a future challenge for the AI ​​sector, which therefore cannot escape a crisis of ego and power? All the big names in the industry have voiced their opinion on the subject: of course the head of Microsoft, Elon Musk in conspiracy or truth-seeking mode, and many worried Silicon Valley employees. Honest debate or ego crisis, the question arose among experts.

The financial challenges ahead are colossal

Monday, November 20: Microsoft announces the arrival of Sam Altman in its line. Meanwhile, OpenAI employees (more than 500 out of 700) are rioting and threatening to walk out with their longtime boss. Sam Altman embodies the company and the promising beginnings of AI so much that almost everyone at the company is considering following him to Microsoft. The “new” leaders of OpenAI seem to be looking for a way out of the competition. For Sam Altman, Microsoft, and the OpenAI Steering Committee, the future financial challenges are colossal. The “business model” of this company, which started as a non-profit, is shaken by the huge promises of money it generates until it falters. The future of ChatGPT as Dall-E depends on it.

Chaos leaves deep scars

Tuesday, November 21: Sam Altman, backed by Satya Nadella, head of Microsoft, announces: “ With Satya’s new board and support, I look forward to returning to OpenAI and building a strong partnership » with Microsoft. His colleague Greg Brockman, the former chairman of the board who followed him to Microsoft, also announced his return.

OpenAI was founded in 2015 as a non-profit association. Since then, the startup has partnered with Microsoft, which has invested several billion dollars and given it access to its IT infrastructure to develop increasingly efficient artificial intelligence models. The IT giant is also a minority shareholder – at an undisclosed level – in the private arm of OpenAI, controlled by the original foundation. ” Microsoft won it all with a poker move that will go down in legend. Microsoft is in an even stronger position than before in AI “, greeted analyst Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities.

Satya Narayana Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. REUTERS – Lucas Jackson

And Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reports that Sam Altman is returning to OpenAI: “ There is no OpenAI without the massive support of Microsoft. We love their independence, but…we have full ownership rights. If OpenAI disappears tomorrow, none of our customers should worry, we have every right to continue to innovate and not just spread it. » The chaos of the last days will leave deep scars. In recent months, OpenAI has seemed to demand regulation in the field of artificial intelligence, but it is also too well positioned for this kind of negotiation as the undisputed leader in the field. In the world of AI, we are talking about The Oppenheimer Effect : the creator is amazed at the capabilities of his invention. Did Sam Altman Pay the Price? The head of OpenAI is no longer unanimous, as we just noted. The upcoming regulation in AI remains an important issue for all players in the industry and for its users.

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