AI news
November 22, 2023

Who's The Mastermind Behind The OpenAI Crisis?

In the past three days, four names have surfaced that are believed to be the real cause of the OpenAI turmoil.

Jim Clyde Monge
by 
Jim Clyde Monge

The recent leadership shakeup at OpenAI has all the dramatic intrigue of a soap opera plotline. With much still unknown about what truly transpired behind closed doors, the public can only speculate about the motives and machinations of those involved.

Who’s to blame for this mess?

In the past three days, four names have surfaced that are believed to be the real cause of the OpenAI turmoil.

Ilya Sutskever

On the first day when the news about Sam’s ousting broke out, all eyes turned to Ilya Sutskever, the Chief Scientist of OpenAI.

An image of OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever
Ilya Sutskever

According to a post on X (formerly Twitter) by Greg Brockman, Ilya backstabbed CEO Sam Altman, his longtime friend, by suddenly firing him.

In a surprising turn of events, just two days later, Ilya expressed “deep regret” for his involvement in the decision to oust Sam.

“I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company,” Sutskever wrote on X.

He even signed the letter asking the board of OpenAI to bring Sam back or else they would resign.

Adam D’Angelo

Another name that is speculated to be the mastermind behind the OpenAI crisis is Adam D’Angelo. Adam, known for his role as the co-founder and CEO of Quora and former Facebook CTO, joined the OpenAI board in 2018.

An image of Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo
Adam D’Angelo

The rumor is that he got mad OpenAI didn’t give his company, Poe, a heads-up before OpenAI announced GPTs on dev day. Adam manipulated the EA people on the board into believing that there was an existential AI risk and that Sam had withheld information.

Adam’s goal was a hostile takeover of OpenAI—all in a conspiracy to shut down his top competitor.

If true, that’s a pretty selfish and shady move, if you ask me.

Until today, Adam has remained silent over the issue. He, however, retweeted this post on X.

Have known Adam D’Angelo for many years and although I have not spoken to him in a while, the idea that he went crazy or is being vindictive over some feature overlap or any of the other rumors seems just wrong. It’s best to withhold judgement until more information comes out. — Amjad Masad

Sam Altman

Today, Elon Musk posted a letter that is presumably a letter for OpenAI from concerned OpenAI employees.

We are writing to you today to express our deep concern about the recent events at OpenAI, particularly the allegations of misconduct against Sam Altman.

The former employees urge the board to call for private statements from former employees during this period of turmoil.

Throughout our time at OpenAI, we witnessed a disturbing pattern of deceit and manipulation by Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, driven by their insatiable pursuit of achieving artificial general intelligence (AGI). Their methods, however, have raised serious doubts about their true intentions and the extent to which they genuinely prioritize the benefit of all humanity.

An image of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman
Sam Altman

Aside from Sam, they also expressed concerns about the behavior of the former OpenAI president, Greg Brockman.

Greg’s use of discriminatory language against a gender-transitioning team member. Despite many promises to address this issue, no meaningful action was taken, except for Greg simply avoiding all communication with the affected individual, effectively creating a hostile work environment. This team member was eventually terminated for alleged under-performance.

The letter on GitHub has now been deleted, but I was able to take a screenshot of the post in case you’re interested.

Elon Musk posted a letter that is presumably a letter for OpenAI from concerned OpenAI employees.
Letter from former OpenAI employees to OpenAI board

Helen Toner

Helen Toner, an OpenAI board member, is also speculated to have been orchestrating the collapse of OpenAI while pretending to take responsible actions to preserve the company just to avoid legal ramifications.

Helen Toner OpenAI board member
Helen Toner

This is a huge accusation against Helen.

However, hours after Sam Altman was ousted as CEO, OpenAI executives confronted the remaining members of the board.

Jason Kwon, OpenAI’s chief strategy officer, told the board that removing Sam was endangering the future of the company. But Helen disagreed. She said that OpenAI would be stronger without Sam.

A few weeks before he was ousted, Sam met with Helen to complain about a research paper she had recently co-written. The paper criticized OpenAI’s effort to keep its AI tech safe while praising the approach taken by Anthropic.

It seems to me that Helen and possibly people from Anthropic might have colluded to oust Sam. And Helen was okay with the company being destroyed.

Final Thoughts

This is a developing story, and the drama around OpenAI is not yet finished. Whatever is happening behind the company, I hope that AI technology will remain safe and useful, benefiting all of humanity.