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Pass the S.Alt

Pass the S.Alt

I was asked to make a Thanksgiving-themed blog this week, and since I aim to please, let’s get busy talking about some turkeys.

If you didn’t pick up on the pun in this week’s title, I’m looking at headlines today for Samuel Altman being fired by the board from his position as CEO for OpenAI. If that sentence confused you at all, don’t worry, I don’t get it either. Yeah, I don’t go for the whole cult of personality that has begun to develop around him, I think the past couple of decades filled with Steve Jobs and Elon Musk have given me my fill of tech bros.

But you fire someone for doing a bad job right? While still a private company, OpenAI is valued at $80 billion, the third most valuable startup in the world. This replacement of Altman comes so far out of left field that it’s hard to parse. What’s more they replaced him with the former CEO of Twitch, a streaming video platform. I don’t think that’s comparable job experience.

The biggest news to come out of this circus is that Microsoft has scooped up Altman and fellow co-founder Greg Brockman to develop AI for them now. Moreover, several hundred OpenAI employees signed their intent to leave OpenAI if they failed to reinstate Altman as CEO, which seems to be set as far as I can tell. It sort of looks like Microsoft just bagged the entirety of the leading artificial intelligence (AI) company for a song.

The real question is why? What in the world could ever possibly have prompted the board at OpenAI to commit such blatant suicide as this? Rome took longer to fall than this absolute upset, and I have taken longer to finish eating a sandwich than it took OpenAI to fumble this play.

Rumors abound that Microsoft may have been orchestrating the whole thing to grab the minds behind the current AI boom before anyone else could. Dozens of analysts spouting lines like, "This is such a smart move by Mircrosoft." Well, yeah? What were they going to do, let Amazon or Google take them instead? They owned 49% of OpenAI already, now they just…own it. Microsoft has billions of dollars planned in infrastructure investment on the horizon and this is them betting big on an AI future. OpenAI may have fired Altman over concerns about transparency and the dangers of AI unshackled, but I assure you, Microsoft will have no such scruples.

I wonder if the government will step in? The DHS and the CISA literally just released their AI roadmap, but then all this happened. Washington is desperate to put the brakes on unchecked AI development, and they’re right to be concerned.

It’s going to be a crazy week to see how this all shakes out, but if its any consolation, on Thursday there will be pie.

Pumpkin for me, humble for some.


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