A triumph of people power at open AI
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A triumph of people power at open AI.

Sam Altman is returning to his old job at OpenAI, creator of ChatGPT, after being sacked five days ago.

On my work chats today, the exploding head emoji has been most commonly used.

It’s still unclear why he was fired in the first place. In spite of this, the board of directors at OpenAI discovered something so troubling that they acted quickly and quietly to oust him, informing almost no one.

In a statement, they implied he had not been honest with them: accusing him of not being “consistently candid”.

In spite of all that, and the appointment of two new CEOs in almost as many days, there has been a phenomenal amount of support for Mr Altman from within the company – and it’s working.

Many workers, including Mira Murati, who was at that time the interim CEO, posted “OpenAI is nothing without its people” on X. There were also a lot of coloured hearts shared. Employees laid off from Twitter sent a coded message too: an emoji salute.

Sam Altman, on the other hand, did not stick around. As of Monday, he had accepted a new job at Microsoft, OpenAI’s largest investor.

Several people muttered to me that this effectively was a Microsoft takeover without staging a takeover: in the span of two days the Seattle giant had hired Mr Altman, OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman, and in a social media post on X, Microsoft chief technology officer Kevin Scott said the company would also take on anyone else from OpenAI who defected – sorry, join us.

Now he’s back. Matrix-style, you can walk through the walls of a large corporation if they want you to. Sam Altman appears to have accomplished exactly that.