OpenAI’s ouster of CEO Sam Altman on Friday followed internal arguments among employees about whether the company was developing artificial intelligence safely enough, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
Such disagreements were high on the minds of some employees during an impromptu all-hands meeting following the firing. Ilya Sutskever, a co-founder and board member at OpenAI who was responsible for limiting societal harms from its AI, took a spate of questions.
At least two employees asked Sutskever—who has been responsible for OpenAI’s biggest research breakthroughs—whether the firing amounted to a “coup” or “hostile takeover,” according to a transcript of the meeting. To some employees, the question implied that Sutskever may have felt Altman was moving too quickly to commercialize the software—which had become a billion-dollar business—at the expense of potential safety concerns.