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OpenAI team devoted to future risks left leaderless

OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever and “superalignment” team co-leader Jan Leike announced their departures from the ChatGPT-maker this week.

OpenAI's ChatGPT is coming under greater regulatory scrutiny
OpenAI's ChatGPT is coming under greater regulatory scrutiny - Copyright AFP Fabrice COFFRINI
OpenAI's ChatGPT is coming under greater regulatory scrutiny - Copyright AFP Fabrice COFFRINI

An OpenAI team devoted to mitigating the long-term dangers of super-smart computers was leaderless on Friday after two high-profile figures left the company.

OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever and “superalignment” team co-leader Jan Leike announced their departures from the ChatGPT-maker this week, and US media reported that remaining members of the group have either left or been reassigned to other parts of the San Francisco-based company.

The apparent dismantling of an OpenAI team focused on keeping sophisticated artificial intelligence under control comes as such technology comes under increased scrutiny from regulators and fears mount regarding its dangers.

“OpenAI must become a safety-first AGI (artificial general intelligence) company,” Leike wrote Friday in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Leike called on all OpenAI employees to “act with the gravitas” warranted by what they are building.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman promises to share more in the days ahead about what the ChatGPT maker is doing to keep its artificial intelligence technology safe

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman promises to share more in the days ahead about what the ChatGPT maker is doing to keep its artificial intelligence technology safe – Copyright AFP/File Fabrice COFFRINI

OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman responded to Leike’s post with one of his own, thanking him for his work at the company and saying he was sad to see Leike leave.

“He’s right we have a lot more to do,” Altman said. “We are committed to doing it.”

Altman promised more on the topic in the coming days.

Sutskever said on X that he was leaving after almost a decade at OpenAI, whose “trajectory has been nothing short of miraculous.”

“I’m confident that OpenAI will build AGI that is both safe and beneficial,” he added, referring to computer technology that seeks to perform as well as — or better than — human cognition.

Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist, sat on the board that voted to remove fellow chief executive Altman in November last year.

The ousting threw the San Francisco-based startup into a tumult, with the OpenAI board hiring Altman back a few days later after staff and investors rebelled.

OpenAI early this week released a higher-performing and even more human-like version of the artificial intelligence technology that underpins ChatGPT, making it free to all users.

“It feels like AI from the movies,” Altman said in a blog post.

Altman has previously pointed to the Scarlett Johansson character in the movie “Her,” where she voices an AI-based virtual assistant dating a man, as an inspiration for where he would like AI interactions to go.

The day will come when “digital brains will become as good and even better than our own,” Sutskever said during a talk at a TED AI summit in San Francisco late last year.

“AGI will have a dramatic impact on every area of life.”

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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