Sam Altman was fired from OpenAI, Inc., the nonprofit organisation that acts as the governing body for OpenAI, the AI startup behind ChatGPT, DALL-E 3, GPT-4 and other highly capable generative AI systems.

This happened last week and after several dramatic events, he has returned to the company but why was he fired in the first place?

The OpenAI board unceremoniously announced Altman’s firing last week Friday without giving investors, or employees, any sort of heads-up.

Altman’s removal came unexpectedly, to say the least and according to The Verge and The New York Times, OpenAI employees learned of Altman’s firing when it was announced publicly.

In an official blog post by OpenAI, the company writes that Altman’s departure follows after a “deliberative review process by the board” that concluded that Sam Altman “wasn’t consistently candid in his communications” with other board members, which hinders its ability to exercise its responsibilities.

“The board no longer has confidence in Altman’s ability to continue leading OpenAI,” the blog post reads.

OpenAI’s dramatic leadership change also saw Greg Brockman who was a member of the team that co-founded OpenAI, as Altman stepped down as chairman of the board.

The OpenAI board of directors who fired Altman consists of OpenAI’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever; Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo; tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley; and Helen Toner, the director of strategy at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

As recently as Sunday, Sutskever alongside other OpenAI’s board released a statement saying that the board “stood by its decision as the only path to advance and defend the mission of OpenAI” and criticised “Sam’s behaviour and lack of transparency.”

Altman’s removal from OpenAI traces back to disagreements with Sutskever regarding the safe development of AI.

Sutskever was worried that OpenAI prioritised profits over safety, especially with rapid technology commercialization. Reports suggest he was upset about announcements, like potential autonomous operation of custom GPTs, made during OpenAI’s first annual developer conference, DevDay.

In a company-wide meeting on Friday, Sutskever expressed that ousting Altman was necessary to safeguard OpenAI’s mission of ensuring AI benefits humanity. However, neither he nor the board pinpointed specific incidents involving Altman as the reason for his removal.

Hi, I’m Damife Isaac

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