OpenAI, the nonprofit organization known for its mission to develop safe artificial general intelligence (AGI), has made a surprising and significant move by removing Greg Brockman, the president, from their board. This unexpected decision has caused shockwaves throughout the tech community. OpenAI's unique corporate structure, which does not grant equity or compensation to board directors, makes this move even more remarkable.
The primary responsibility of OpenAI's board members is to fulfill the company's ambitious mission of creating AGI while prioritizing safety, rather than focusing on shareholder value. This approach sets it apart from traditional corporate governance models. After the recent departures of Reid Hoffman, Shivon Zilis, and Will Hurd, OpenAI had disclosed the names of its board members. However, a venture capitalist specializing in AI had previously pointed out that OpenAI's nonprofit board had been lacking conventional governance since Hoffman's departure.
It is worth noting that the decision to remove Brockman and dismiss Altman, who played no role in the matter, was taken by the remaining board members. Brockman himself expressed surprise at these actions, claiming he had no prior knowledge of the board's decision-making process. The remaining directors, namely D'Angelo, McCauley, and Sutskever, were also identified along with their respective roles within the organization.
OpenAI has chosen not to comment on the situation, keeping their reasons for removing Brockman from the board undisclosed for the time being. This unexpected development raises questions about the future direction of the organization and the potential influence it might have on their pursuit of AGI. The implications of these significant changes within OpenAI will undoubtedly be closely monitored by industry experts and the wider tech community.OpenAI, in July, made an announcement regarding Sutskever's co-leadership of a team dedicated to "superalignment." This team will utilize a portion of OpenAI's computing power to develop solutions for supervising AI that surpasses human intelligence. Sutskever, in his most recent social media post in October, expressed his belief that prioritizing intelligence over other human qualities could result in negative outcomes.
In September 2021, an individual who held the position of director of strategy and foundational research grants at Georgetown's Center for Security and Emerging Technology joined OpenAI's board of directors. Her role on the board involves considering safety measures in a world where OpenAI's technology has a global impact. During her appointment, Brockman acknowledged her extensive analysis of the long-term risks and impacts of AI.
In recent times, Toner has gained recognition as an expert on China's AI landscape and the potential role of AI regulation in geopolitical competition with China. Prior to her current position at CSET, Toner resided in Beijing and researched its AI ecosystem. In June, she co-authored an essay that argued against the notion that regulation would hinder the United States in a race against China, contradicting Altman's testimony in the U.S. Senate.
LinkedIn co-founder and billionaire Hoffman invested in OpenAI through his charitable foundation, as opposed to his venture capital firm. Although he announced his resignation from OpenAI's board in March to avoid potential conflicts of interest, Hoffman expressed continued support for the organization and its mission.
In May 2021, former Texas congressman Hurd joined OpenAI's board to provide expertise in public policy. However, shortly after announcing his presidential campaign for the 2024 Republican nomination, Hurd left the board in July and ultimately withdrew from the race by October.
Karnofsky, who serves as the director of AI strategy at Open Philanthropy, joined OpenAI's board in 2017 following his recommendation of a $30 million grant to the company. At the time, Karnofsky held the position of executive director at Open Philanthropy. In early 2023, he temporarily stepped down from his role but later returned to spearhead its AI risk initiatives. Karnofsky's marriage to Anthropic co-founder Daniela Amodei, who was an executive at OpenAI, presented a potential conflict of interest and led to his departure from OpenAI's board in 2021 when Amodei left the company.
Elon Musk, a co-founder of OpenAI, resigned from the board in 2018 after making a significant funding contribution. Musk, who claimed to be the driving force behind OpenAI's establishment, openly criticized the company and left the board due to a conflict of interest with his company, Tesla.Melanie Zilis, former advisor and board member at OpenAI, Elon Musk's brain implant company Neuralink's director of operations and special projects, has recently spoken out about her departure from OpenAI following Musk's disparaging remarks about the organization. Zilis, who shares twin toddlers, Strider and Azure, with Musk, now serves as a board member at Shield AI. She has expressed bewilderment regarding OpenAI's transformation from a non-profit entity, to which she generously contributed around $100 million, into a for-profit company valued at $30 billion in the market. Zilis has raised concerns about the legality and fairness of this transition.