OpenAI fires researchers for leaking information

OpenAI, the AI startup behind the generative AI bot ChatGPT, has fired two key researchers for alleged leaking, The Information said on Thursday.

According to the report, the company has fired Leopold Aschenbrenner, a researcher on a team dedicated to keeping AI safe for society, and Pavel Izmailov, another researcher who worked on reasoning.

It’s not known what kind of information the two researchers had leaked, but OpenAI was looking to hire an “insider risk investigator” to combat leaks and secure its innovations in mid-February, MSPowerUser reported.

Of course, OpenAI was shaken by a very public boardroom drama in November when Sam Altman, the chief executive, was sacked by the board. After a backlash, though, Altman was reinstated.

Back then, there were reports about internal strife at OpenAI, allegedly related to disagreements about the proper pace of AI development. The company’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, was reportedly the source of discontent.

Sutskever later expressed regret over the decision to move against Altman but soon lost his position on the OpenAI’s board and is now rumored to have been shut out of the company altogether. Elon Musk even offered him a position at xAI.

Right before the release of ChatGPT in 2022, Sutskever made waves by tweeting that “it may be that today’s large neural networks are slightly conscious.”

Presumably, he was worried about the speed of AI development. Sutskever then also appeared in iHuman, a BBC documentary, and declared that artificial general intelligence models will “solve all the problems that we have today” before warning that they will also present “the potential to create infinitely stable dictatorships.”

Aschenbrenner, a close ally of Sutskever, who graduated from Columbia University at the age of 19, was seen as a rising star at OpenAI and a vocal advocate for safe AI development.

OpenAI’s charter still states that its “primary fiduciary duty is to humanity,” not investors, but in 2019, Altman transformed the AI lab into a for-profit company and fully commercialized it after the release of ChatGPT in late 2022.

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