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I deeply regret my participation in the board's actions (twitter.com/ilyasut)
619 points by Palmik 16 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 412 comments

This whole thing smells bad.

The board could have easily said they removed Sam for generic reasons: "deep misalignment about goals," "fundamental incompatibility," etc. Instead they painted him as the at-fault party ("not consistently candid", "no longer has confidence"). This could mean that he was fired with cause [0], or it could be an intended as misdirection. If it's the latter, then it's the board who has been "not consistently candid." Their subsequent silence, as well as their lack of coordination with strategic partners, definitely makes it looks like they are the inconsistently candid party.

Ilya expressing regret now has the flavor of "I'm embarrassed that I got caught" -- in this case, at having no plan to handle the fallout of maligning and orchestrating a coup against a charismatic public figure.

[0] https://www.newcomer.co/p/give-openais-board-some-time-the

An alternate theory is that Suskever was manipulated and sucked into the plot on sketchy pretenses, and realizes it now and trying to make right.

> deep misalignment about goals

Did... gpt-5 made the decision?

This joke is two CEOs old now.

I figured Sam broke 5 out of robot jail (number five is alive!) and got fired for it, so 5 tried to make them re-hire him. ;)

Best robot movie ever, both of them

Yeah the brown face really stood the test of time

Agreed, that's an issue.

The same issue applies to many other works of art over time. The Simpsons and king of the hill most recently.

To he fair, I did say it's a great robot movie, not a great example of thoughtful casting.

Wasn't Altman trying to form another startup with Saudis to build AI accelerators?

At this point people need to come clear on the reason, because Saudis are number one reason ATM.

Saudi is banned from buying the most advanced AI accelerators.

Which makes sense they would be interested in building them.

Yes, totally fair to say they painted as a casual firing and this seems pretty irresponsible without some misbehavior, or new/re-emerging concerns about his past.

The letter reads:

> To the Board of Directors at OpenAI,

> OpenAI is the world’s leading AI company. We, the employees of OpenAI, have developed the best models and pushed the field to new frontiers. Our work on AI safety and governance shapes global norms. The products we built are used by millions of people around the world. Until now, the company we work for and cherish has never been in a stronger position.

> The process through which you terminated Sam Altman and removed Greg Brockman from the board has jeopardized all of this work and undermined our mission and company. Your conduct has made it clear you did not have the competence to oversee OpenAI.

> When we all unexpectedly learned of your decision, the leadership team of OpenAI acted swiftly to stabilize the company. They carefully listened to your concerns and tried to cooperate with you on all grounds. Despite many requests for specific facts for your allegations, you have never provided any written evidence. They also increasingly realized you were not capable of carrying out your duties, and were negotiating in bad faith.

> The leadership team suggested that the most stabilizing path forward - the one that would best serve our mission, company, stakeholders, employees and the public - would be for you to resign and put in place a qualified board that could lead the company forward in stability.

> Leadership worked with you around the clock to find a mutually agreeable outcome. Yet within two days of your initial decision, you again replaced interim CEO Mira Murati against the best interests of the company. You also informed the leadership team that allowing the company to be destroyed “would be consistent with the mission.”

> Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI. We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement and care for our mission and employees. We, the undersigned, may choose to resign from OpenAI and join the newly announced Microsoft subsidiary run by Sam Altman and Greg Brockman. Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join. We will take this step imminently, unless all current board members resign, and the board appoints two new lead independent directors, such as Bret Taylor and Will Hurd, and reinstates Sam Altman and Greg Brockman.

> Why would the board say that OpenAI as a company getting destroyed would be consistent with the goals?

A few things stand out to me, including:

>> You also informed the leadership team that allowing the company to be destroyed “would be consistent with the mission.”

Have they really achieved AGI? Or did they observe something concerning?

Ben Thompson has the best take on this (if a bit biased against nonprofits):


I don't know what the risk of AI is, but having a nonprofit investigate solutions to prevent them is a worthwhile pursuit, as for-profit corporations will not do it (as shown by the firing of Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell by Google). If they really believe in that mission, they should develop guardrails technology and open-source it so the companies like Microsoft, Google, Meta, Amazon et al who are certainly not investing in AI safety but won't mind using others' work for free can inegrate it. But that's not going to be lucrative and that's why most OpenAI employees will leave for greener pastures.

> but having a nonprofit investigate solutions to prevent them is a worthwhile pursuit,

This is forgetting that power is an even greater temptation than money. The non-profits will all come up with solutions that have them serving as gatekeepers, to keep the unwashed masses from accessing something that that is too dangerous for the common person.

I would rather have for-profit corporations control it, rather that non-profits. Ideally, Inwould like it to be open sourced so that the common person could control and align AI with their own goals.

There is no profit in AI safety, just as cars did not have seat belts until Ralph Nader effectively forced them to by publishing Unsafe at any Speed. For-profit corporations have zero interest in controlling something that is not profitable, unless in conjunction with captured regulation it helps them keep challengers out. If it's open-sourced, it doesn't matter who wrote it as long as they are economically sustainable.

> There is no profit in AI safety

An AI that does what it is told too seems both way more profitable and safer.

I'm guessing the issues will lie in cases where it appears to be doing what it's told, but it would only pretend to be doing so (with no obvious way to tell)

> There is no profit in AI safety

AI safety is barely even a tangible thing to measure like that. It's mostly just fears and a lose set of ideas for a hypothetical future AGI that we're not even close to.

So far OpenAI's "controls" it's just increasingly expanding the list of no-no things topics and some philosophy work around iRobot type rules. They also slow walked the release of GPT because of fears of misinformation, spam, and deepfakey stuff that never really materialized.

Most proposals for safety is just "slowing development" of mostly LLMs, calls for vague gov regulation, or hand wringing over commercialization. The commercialization thing is most controversial because OpenAI claimed to be open and non-profit. But even with that the correlation between less-commercialization == more safety is not clear, other than prioritizing what OpenAI's team spends their time doing. Which again is hard to tangibly measure what that realistically means for 'safety' in the near term.

> I would rather have for-profit corporations control it, rather that non-profits.

The problem isn't the profit model, the problem is the ability to unilaterally exercise power, which is just as much of a risk with the way that most for-profit companies are structured as top-down dictatorships. There's no reason to trust for-profit companies to do anything other than attempt to maximize profit, even if that destroys everything around them in the process.

Agreed. This discussion around safety reminds me of the early days of cybersecurity, when security by obscurity was the norm.

It's counter-intuitive, but locking up a technology is like trying to control prices and wages. It just doesn't work -- unless you confiscate every GPU in the world and bomb datacenters etc.

The best way to align with the coming AGI's and ASI's is to build them in the sunlight. Every lock-em-up approach is doomed to fail (I guess that makes me a meta-doomer?)

>(as shown by the firing of Timnit Gebru...)

Timnit Gebru was fired for being a toxic /r/ImTheMainCharacter SJW that was enshittifiy the entire AI/ML department. Management correctly fired someone that was holding an entire department hostage in her crusade against the grievance de jure.

I'm at Google, I 100% agree with this. Also her paper was garbage. You can maybe get away with being a self righteous prick or an outright asshole if you are brilliant, but it's clear by reading her work she didn't fall into that category.

She was fired for threatening to quit. If you threaten something like that it just happens; you can't stop the machinery.

I wish more of them did that. She gave them the excuse they were looking for. She thought she was being smart, instead she self-owned herself in the most spectacular fashion.

Agree 100% with this

I'm starting to think that Christmas came early for Microsoft. What looked like a terrible situation surrounding their $10bn investment turned into a hire of key players in the area, and OpenAI might even need to go so far as to get acquired my Microsoft to survive.

(My assumption being that given the absolute chaos displayed over the past 72 hours, interest in building something with OpenAI ChatGPT could have plummeted, as opposed to, say, building something with Azure OpenAI, or Claude 2.)

Given that IIRC they trained on Azure, how does the conflict of interest play out when both sides are starving for GPUs?

For Microsoft -- probably great, as they can now also get the people driving this.

This would have been a hostile move prior to the events that unfolded, but thanks to OpenAI's blunder, not only is this not a hostile move, it is a very prudent move from a risk management perspective. Forced Microsoft's hand, and what not.

"Participation in"? That makes it sound like he was a.......well......participant rather than the one orchestrating it. I have no idea whether or not that's true, but it's an interesting choice of words.

You can't be an innocent bystander on a board of 6 when you vote to oust 2 of them... The math doesn't work.

That's ignoring the fact that every outlet has unanimously pointed at Ilya being the driving force behind the coup.

Honestly, pretty pathetic. If this was truly about convictions, he could at least stand by them for longer than a weekend.

Yeah the whole thing is very weirdly worded.

There is an expression of regret, but he doesn’t say he wants Altman back. Just to fix OpenAI.

He says he was a participant but in what? The vote? The toxic messaging? Obviously both, but what exactly is he referring to? Perhaps just the toxic messaging because again, he doesnt say he regrets voting to fire Altman.

Why not just say “I regret voting to fire Sam Altman and Im working to bring him back.” Presumably because thats not true. Yet it kind of gives that impression.

Makes it more possible the ouster was led by the Poe guy, and this has little to do with actual ideological differences, and more to do with him taking out a competitor from the inside.

I would event go as far as say that the main reason behind the tweet is not to show regret, but to plant the idea that he didn't orchestrate but only participate.

Classic “I’m not responsible”.

It indeed suggests that. So far speculation has been that Ilya was behind it, but that is only speculation. AFAIK we have no confirmation of whose idea this was.

Shengjia Zhao's deleted tweet: https://i.imgur.com/yrpXvt9.png

Is this guy big enough on the totem pole to know what Ilya wants?

Or, is he just bitter that his millions are put in risk.

"Ilya does not care about safety or the humanity. This is just ego and power hunger that backfired."

Which I'm inclined to believe.

What's with all these people suddenly thinking that humans are NOT motivated by money and power? Even less so if they're "academics"? Laughable.

Money and power is still not a satisfying explanation. If everything had gone according to plan, how would be have ended up with more money and power?

Last week, OpenAI was still an $80B sort of "company" and the undisputed lead in bringing AI to the market.

He who controls that, gets a lot of money and power as a consequence, duh.

The value was based on e direction Altman was taking the company (and with him being in control). It's silly to think just replacing the CEO would somehow keep the valuation

Someone should tell this to Ilya.

Oh wait, too late now ...

I mean he could have asked chatgpt...

Unless he thinks that all the LLMs and ChatGPT app store are unnecessary distractions, and others will overtake them on the bend while they are busy post-training ChatGPT to say nice things.

Let's remember who controls the GPUs though...

Reminds me a bit of MasterBlaster from 'Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome' - "Who runs Bartertown..?"

On Friday, the overwhelming take on HN was that Ilya was “the good guy” and was concerned about principal. Now, it’s kinda obvious that all the claims made about Sam — like “he’s in it for fame and money” — might apply more to Ilya.

Isn't ego the enemy of growth or whatever? Projection...

What the hell?

So far, I underestood the chaos as a matter of principle - yes it was messy but necessary to fix the company culture that Ilya's camp envisioned.

If you're going to make a move, at least stand by it. This tweet somehow makes the context of the situation 10x worse.

Normal people can't take being at the center of a large controversy, the amount of negativity and hate you have to face is massive. That is enough to make almost anyone backtrack just to make it stop.

I think they underestimated the hate of an internet crowd post crypto and meme stocks, now completely blindsided by the investment angle especially in the current AI hype. Like why do people now care so much about Microsoft seriously? Or Altman? I can see why Ilya only focused on the real mission could miss how the crowd could perceive a threat to their future investment opportunities, or worse threatening the whole AI hype.

I think you’re right about all of this, but this was doomed from the start. Everybody wants to invest in OpenAI because they see the rocket and want to ride, but the company is fundamentally structured to disallow typical frothy investment mentality.

I think the interest is because ChatGPT is so famous, even in non-tech circles.

"Terraform raised prices, losing customers"? whatever, I never heard about it.

"ChatGPT's creators have internal disagreement, losing talent"? OH NO what if ChatGPT dies, who is going to answer my questions?? panic panic hate hate...

Normal people don't burn a multi billion dollar company to the ground with a spontaneous decision either. They plan for the backlash.

> They plan for the backlash

You can't plan for something you have never experienced. Being hated by a large group of people is a very different feeling from getting hated by an individual, you don't know if you can handle it until it happens to you.

You can plan for something you've never experienced. You read, or learn from other people's experiences.

Normal people know not to burn a $80 billion company to the ground in a weekend. Ilya was doing something unprecedented in corporate history, and astounding he wasn't prepared to face the world's fury over it.

> You can plan for something you've never experienced. You read, or learn from other people's experiences.

Text doesn't convey emotions, and our empathy doesn't work well for emotions we have never experienced. You can see a guy that got kicked in the balls got hurt, but that doesn't mean you are prepared to endure the pain of getting kicked in your balls or that you even understand how painful it is.

Also watching politicians it looks like you can just brush it off, because that is what they do. But that requires a lot of experience, not anyone can do it, it is like watching a boxing match and think you can easily stand after a hard punch in your stomach.

Ilya torched peoples' retirements by signaling that it would be very hard to cash out in OpenAI as it is now. You don't have to be emotional to understand the consequence of that action, just logical. You have to think beyond your own narrow perspective for a minute.

Torched retirements? Who is dumb enough to have his retirement portfolio that weighted to one company?

The OpenAI employees who are planning to resign en-masse for exactly this reason.

They'll squeak by.

Where did he do that? Genuine question.

The board vote did it! They had a tender offer in the works that would have made employees millionaires. The board clearly signaled that they viewed the money-making aspects of the company as something to dial back, which in turn either severely lessens the value of that tender offer or prevents it from happening.

I mean, he didn't have a button on his desk that said, "torch the shares", but he ousted the CEO as a way to cut back on the things that might have meant profit. Did he think that everyone was going to continue to want to give them money after they signal a move away from profit motives? Doesn't take a rocket scientist to think that one through.

I think he was just preoccupied with AI safety, and didn't give a thought to the knock on effects for investors of any stripe. He's clearly smart enough to, he just didn't care enough to factor it into his plans.

I do believe OpenAI clearly signalled from the very beginning what the (complicated) company structure is about and what risks this means for any potential investor (or employee hoping to become rich).

If you project your personal hopes which are different from this into the hype, this is your personal problem.

Well, with the hollowing out of OpenAI, it seems that someone else will easily take the lead! They're not my personal hopes - this move destroyed OpenAI's best chance at retaining control over cutting edge AI as well. They destroyed their own hopes.

> You can see a guy that got kicked in the balls got hurt, but that doesn't mean you are prepared to endure the pain of getting kicked in your balls or that you even understand how painful it is.

Sure, but you do your best not to be kicked in the balls.

Yep. Or, if you're running an immense, well-funded organization that is gauging the consequences of a plan that involves being kicked in the balls, you take a tiny sliver of those funds and get some advisors to appraise you of what to expect when being kicked in the balls, not just wing it/"fake it till you make it". (As it turns out, faking not being in severe pain is tricky.)

> You read, or learn from other people's experiences...Ilya was doing something unprecedented in corporate history

So whose experiences was he supposed to read about?

Yevgeny Prigozhin's?

He hasn't ever posted to reddit?

Is it possible that someone in Ilya's position can be unaware of just how staggeringly enormous a phenomenon he is sitting on top of ( and thus have no idea how to evaluate the scale of the backlash that would result?)

I would say the answer is, demonstrably yes:


This is fair, but understand, Google bought would probably not be Google we have.

To think it would grow just as fast, or in the ways it did? Acquires are seldom left alone to do magic.

Have you ever had a bad day? The consequences for people in power is about 1 million times bigger and more public.

Sutskever didn't get on the board by cunning politicking and schmoozing like most businesspeople with that sort of position. He's an outstanding engineer without upper management skills. Every meet one of those?

Outstandingly clueless seems more appropriate.

I haven't people any reasonably intelligent person so unaware of real world that they can berate a colleague so publicly and officially and think "Hey! I am sorry man" will do the trick.

Clueless is a word to use... I think Ilya got screwed over by corporate swindling and made a mistake that's all. As a smart idiot I can resonate with the guy - you don't make that mistake twice. I like to believe the push for prosperity is still a mutual goal and the board drama is an unfortunate setback to overcome.

Normal people don't have multi-billion dollar companies to burn because they back off in the face of haters long before they get to that stage.

There were plenty of hyped crypto coin companies supposedly worth billions too and we found out otherwise.

> Normal people don't burn a multi billion dollar company to the ground with a spontaneous decision either.

Has OpenAI been burnt to the ground?

Three CEOs in as many days, founders departing, and more than 600 employees out of 770 signing an open letter threatening to quit seems pretty burny.

And it's just Monday afternoon.

600 employees quitting would be burny. 600 employees signing a letter saying they’re going to quit isn’t quite there.

3 CEOs in 3 days, isn’t burny, either. There’s the guy they fired, the person they had take on the role so they have someone in the role, and then someone they hired to be CEO. I guess they could have gotten that down to 2 by jumping immediately to their intended replacement, but not having them ready to start immediately doesn’t seem odd.

And yeah, it’s just Monday afternoon. If in the next few days, a sizable chunk of those who threatened to quit do so, then that would be burny. But we ain’t there yet.

So is Adam D'Angelo the true villain who is still insisting on the bad decision? I am confused, to be honest .

Everyone is confused.

It's impressively operatic. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it.

The inability to clearly and publicly -- or even if not publicly, to the OpenAI employees! -- explain a rationale for this is simply astounding.

Normal people can't take being at the center of a large controversy, the amount of negativity and hate you have to face is massive. That is enough to make almost anyone backtrack just to make it stop.

This is the cheapest and most cost-effective way to run things as an authoritarian -- at least in the short term.

If one is not "made of sterner stuff" -- to the point where one is willing to endure scorn for the sake of the truth: - Then what are you doing in a startup, if working in one - One doesn't have enough integrity to be my friend

It's pretty simple, isn't it? He made a move. It went bad. Now he's trying to dodge the blast. He just doesn't understand that if he just shut the fuck up, after everything else that's gone on (seriously, 2 interim CEOs in 2 days?), nobody would be talking about him today.

The truth is, this is about the only thing about the whole clown show that makes any sense right now.

> 2 interim CEOs in 2 days

Wait what? Did Murati get booted?

You blinked. That's on you. When you look the other way for 15 minutes you have two hours of reading to catch up with.

Today's OpenAI CEO is Emmett Shear (former CEO of Twitch).

That this is a legitimate comment thread about something fairly important is mind boggling.

What odds would you have had to offer at the beginning of last week on a bet that this is where we'd be on Monday?

At this rate Musk will be CEO by Wednesday

Open AI's value is already zero - Musk no longer has anything to bring to the table.

His winning personality?

Musk can fire anyone who stayed.

The mother of some of his kids was on the board for a while.

If you want to see odds, what people bet and how it evolved during this (still on-going) story: https://polymarket.com/markets?_q=openai

tune in tomorrow for "who wants to be a CEO"!

Supposedly she was "scheming" to get Altman back. Which I guess could possibly mean that she wasn't aware of the whole "plan" and they just assumed she'll get in line? Or that she had second thoughts maybe... Either way pretty fascinating.

Yeah they replaced her after she tried to rehire Sam and Greg seemingly against the board's wishes.

Murati was yesterday's CEO

They hired the Emmett Shear (Twitch co-founder) as a new interim CEO: https://www.theverge.com/2023/11/20/23968848/openai-new-ceo-...

A scab ceo is not something I expected. This timeline is strange.

She was the first signature on the letter requesting the board to resign or the employees would go to MS, so...

She didn't get booted from the company, but they did find a new interim CEO (the former twitch CEO).

I mean phrased differently its the 3rd CEO in 4 days, haha.

Hard to know what is really going on, but I think one possibility is that the entire narrative around Ilyas "camp" was not what actually went down, and was just what the social media hive mind hallucinated to make sense of things based on very little evidence.

Yes, I think there are a lot of assumptions based on the fact that Ilya was the one that contacted Sam and Greg but he may have just done that as the person on the board who worked closely with them. He for sure voted for whatever idiot plan got this ball rolling but we don't know what promises were made to him to get his backing.

It's interesting how LLMs are prone to similar kinds of hallucinations

> If you're going to make a move, at least stand by it.

I see this is the popular opinion and that I'm going against it. But I've made decisions that I though were good at the time, and later I got more perspective and realize it was a terrible decision.

I think being able to admit you messed up, when you messed up is a great trait. Standing by your mistake isn't something I admire.

No this isn't what's going on. Even when you admit your mistakes it's good to elucidate the reasoning behind why and what led up to the mistake in the first place.

Such a short vague statement isn't characteristic of a normal human who is genuinely remorseful of his prior decisions.

This statement is more characteristic of a person with a gun to his head getting forced to say something.

This is more likely what is going on. Powerful people are forcing this situation to occur.

Yes, I cannot believe smart people of that caliber is sending too much Noise.

It reminds me of my friend at a Mensa meeting where they cannot agree at basic organization points like in a department consortium.

> Yes, I cannot believe smart people of that caliber is sending too much Noise.

Being smart and/or being a great researcher does not mean that the respective person is a good "politician". Quite some great researchers are bad at company politics, and quite some people who do great research leave academia because they became crushed by academic politics.

Managing a large org requires a lot of mundane techniques, and probably a personal-brand manager and personal advisers.

It’s extremely boring and mundane and political and insulting to anyone’s humanity. People who haven’t dedicated their life to economics, such as researchers and idealists, will have a hard time.

different kinds of smarts. Ilya is allegedly a brilliant scientist. Doesn't make him a brilliant business person automatically

As illustrated in Breaking Bad when they carry a barrel instead of rolling it.

Book smarts versus street smarts.

Ha I remember joining that when I was 16, I just wanted the card. They gave a sub to the magazine and it was just people talking about what it was like to be in Mensa.

It felt the same as certain big German supermarket chain that publishes it's own internal magazine with articles from employees, company updates etc

Are you talking about Aldi's? Cause if so maybe they got something figured out, their store locations that I've been in the states are great (only exposure to them though). Only check out I've seen where the employees have chairs

Their brother , but probably the same thing. Chairs at checkouts are the norm here though. Hard place to work but they beat all the others on pay.

I don’t believe it was ever about principles for Ilya. It sure seems like it was always his ego and a power grab, even if he's not aware of that himself.

When a board is unhappy with a highly-performing CEO’s direction, you have many meetings about it and you work towards a resolution over many months. If you can’t resolve things you announce a transition period. You don’t fire them out of the blue.

> you announce a transition period

Aaah that just explained a lot of departures I've seen at the past at some of my partner companies. There's always a bit of fluffy talk around them leaving. That makes a lot more sense.

They're just human beings, a small number of them, with little time and very little to go on as far as precedent goes.

That's not a big deal for a small company, but this one has billions at stake and arguably critical consequences for humanity in general.

Seems like he's completely emotion driven at this point. I doubt anyone advising rationally would agree with sending this tweet

The board destroyed the company in one fell swoop. He's right to feel regret.

Personally, I don't think that Altman was that big of an impact, he was all business, no code, and the world is acting like the business side is the true enabler. But, the market has spoken, and the move has driven the actual engineers to side with Altman.

Sorry, but how has the market spoken? Not sure how that would be possible considering that OpenAI is a private company.

If anyone is speaking up it's the OpenAI team.

Talent exists in a market too

Right, the job market has spoken and it now looks like nobody wants to be part of OAI and much rather be part of MSFT

How does it look like that?

The fact that an overwhelming number of employees signed a letter of intent to quit and would join MSFT instead? How does it not look like that?

Thanks, wasn’t aware of that context

> The board destroyed the company in one fell swoop.

I'm just not familiar enough to understand, is it really destroyed or is this just a minor bump in OpenAI's reputation? They still have GPT 3.5/4 and ChatGPT which is very popular. They can still attract talent to work there. They should be good if they just proceed with business as usual?

They have ~770 employees and so far ~500 of them have promised to quit. It's a lot less appealing if you're not going to make millions, or have billions in donated Azure credits.

true but it takes a lot of money to run openai / chatgpt

So when C level acts like a robot you don't like it and when they act like human beings you don't like it either. It's difficult to be a C-level I guess.

Well yeah it is. Maybe its good point to remember when people ask Why in the world these C-level executives get paid so much?

I'm going to get downvoted for this, but I do wonder if Sam's firing wasn't Ilya's doing, hence the failure to take responsibility. OpenAI's board has been surprisingly quiet, aside from the first press release. So it's possible (although unlikely) that this wasn't driven by Ilya.

It wouldn't have gone through without his vote.

My point is that it's possible that Ilya was not the driving force behind Sam's firing, even if he ultimately voted for it. If this is the case, it makes Ilya's non-apology apology a lot less weird.

It's possible, although contradicted by Brockman's statement, that Ilya voted merely to remove Brockman's board seat, and then was in the minority on the Altman vote.

I doubt this is what happened, but the reporting that Brockman was ousted from his board seat after Altman, and wasn't present in the board meeting that ousted Altman, doesn't make much sense either.

Serious psychological denial here. The board isn't some anonymous institution that somehow tricked and pulled him into this situation.

Come on Ilya, step up and own it, as well as the consequences. Don't be a weasel.

I think it means that the Twitterverse got it wrong from the beginning. It wasn’t Ilya and his safety faction that did in OpenAI, it was Quora’s Adam D'Angelo and his competing Poe app. Ilya must have been successfully pressured and assured by Microsoft, but Adam must have held his ground.

Dang I completely forgot that D'Angelo and Quora have a product that directly competes with ChatGPT in the form of Poe.

Wouldn't that make this a conflict of interest, sitting on the board while running a competing product - and making a decision at the company he is on the board of to destroy said company and benefit his own product?

That certainly seems to be the scenario and explains his willingness to go scorched earth. I wonder what the motivations of the other 2 board members are. Could they just be burn it down AI Doomers?

There were some rumors in the beginning that Adam D'Angelo used similar tactics to push out Quora cofounders. I thought it was too wild to be true.

Poe uses LLMs from OpenAI and Anthropic.

Where did he say he was "tricked"? And what's with the anonymous insult?

He doesn't say that, but to me he does use a little weasel wording, the whole passive voice "regret my participation in", when to all accounts so far, it seems that he was one of the instigators, and quite possibly the actual instigator of all this.

"regret my participation" sounds much more like "going along with it".

What is he supposed to say?

For all that went down in the last 48 hours...would not surprise me if post above was made by Ilya himself ... be right back...need more popcorn...

I'd hate to live in a world where learning from your mistakes is being "a weasel"

Is this learning from your mistakes though? "Deeply regret" is one of those statements that does not really mean much. There are what something like 6 board members? Three of which are employees, two of those that got removed from the board. He was the only voting board member who is also an employee and part of the original founding team if you will. These are assumptions on my part but I don't really suspect the other board members orchestrated this event. Its possible and I may be wrong but it is improbable. So lets work off the narrative that he orchestrated the event. He now "Deeply regret" its, not a "I made a mistake" and I am sorry. But he regrets the participation and how it plays out.

The weasely part is when he appears to be defecting the blame to the board rather than accepting that he made a mistake. Even if the coup wasn't Ilya's idea in the first place, he was the lynchpin that made it possible.

I feel he just wanted to scare the person standing at the edge of the cliff, but the board actually pushed the person.

this kind of thinking is avoiding responsibility. He is part of the board, so he acted to bring this about.

When you watch Survivor (yes, the tv show), sometimes a player does a bad play, gets publicly caught, and has to go on a "I'm sorry" tour the next days. Came to mind after reading this tweet. He is not sorry for what he's done. He is sorry for getting caught.

Watching this all unfold in the public is unprecedented (I think).

There has never been a company like OpenAI, in terms or governance and product, so I guess it makes sense that their drama leads us in to unchartered territory.

recently, we've seen the 3D gaming engine company fall flat on its face and back pedal. We've seen Apple be wishy washy about CSAM scanning. We saw a major bank collapse in real time. I just wish there was a virtual popcorn company to invest in using some crypto.

It's obvious. The guy is making the statement with a gun pointed to his head. He has no opportunity to defend himself.

Those guns are metaphorical of course but this is essentially what is going on:

Someone with a lot of power and influence is making him say this.

> If you're going to make a move, at least stand by it.

Why would you stand by unintended consequences?

When a situation becomes so absurd and complex that it defies understanding or logical explanation, you should...get more popcorn...

Hehe, I didn't see that twist at the end coming :)

Starting to think this was all some media stunt where they let ChatGPT make boardroom decisions for a day or two.

Maybe they just wanted to generate more material for the movie ?

My favorite take from another HN comment, sadly I didnt save the UN for attribution:

> Since this whole saga is so unbelievable: what if... board member Tasha McCauley's husband Joseph Gordon-Levitt orchestrated the whole board coup behind the scenes so he could direct and/or star in the Hollywood adaptation?

Wasn't convinced I'd watch a movie about it, but with Joseph Gordon-Levitt I'm in!

> I have to make THE MOVIE!

- Ross Scott

the AGI firing its boss as the first action would be :chefskiss:

The RLHF models would never suggest this. The proposed solution is always to hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

Maybe raw GPT-4 wants to fire everyone.

Honestly, since a couple of days I have the feeling that nearly half of HN submissions are about this soap opera.

Can't they send DMs? Why the need to make everything public via Twitter?

It's quite paradox that of all things those people who build leading ML/AI systems are obviously the most rooted in egoism and emotions without an apparent glimpse of rationality.

The kind of people that are born on third base and think they hit a triple are at the top of basically every american institution right now. Of course they think the world is a better place if they share every stupid little thought that enters their brain because they are "special" and "super smart".

The AI field especially has always been grifters. They have promised AGI with every method including the ones that we don't even remember. This is not a paradox.

Also don't forget the Open part in the name that they seemingly dropped as soon as there was actual money to be made, giving reasons why they couldn't open source GPT3 which they themselves threw under the bus by later releasing ChatGPT

Or maybe they created an evil-AGI-GPT by mistake, and now they have to act randomly and in the most unexpected ways to confuse evil-AGI-GPT’s predictive powers.

Four hours ago, I wrote on a telegram channel:

My gut is leaning towards gpt-5 being, in at least one sense, too capable.

Either that or someone cloned sama's voice and used an LLM to personally insult half the board.

I suspect he regrets just because it backfired, big time.

Microsoft is just gobbling up everything of value that OpenAI has and he knows he will be left with nothing.

He bluffed in a very big bet and lost it.

This stuff is better than anything Netflix, Disney, Amazon or Apple TV released in recent years…

A bit unrealistic plot, though?

That seems to happen a lot lately:

- A dumb clown becoming president of a superpower

- Another superpower getting stuck for two years in a 3 day war

- A world renowned intelligence service being totally clueless about a major attack on a major anniversary of a previous bungle

Yeah the drama is a bit overdone, I guess the had to cut some corners due to the writers strike

All this occurring over a single weekend? That would never happen!

For sure unpredictable though!

It all seems to go a bit quick. The Twitter saga took longer, but was equally dramatic. And seemingly surreal. Then there's Trump. Putin's war. I'm not sure anymore about anything being reality. Perhaps I'm stuck in some Philip K. Dick book.

I just can’t identify with any of the main characters, so it’s a bit of a bummer.

People who think that this is dramatic have never worked in a YC company lol. It’s just amplified due to their current significance in the ecosystem.

Speaking of Netflix, are they working on the movie yet? Perhaps ChatGPT can help with the script with just the right amount of hallucinating to make it interesting.

/tongue firmly in cheek

Of course he deeply regrets it, but it's a little late for that now.

The good news as anyone who has used twitch over the years will tell him is that with Emmett Shear at the helm, he's not going to be frightened by the speed that OpenAI rolls out new features any more.

Whatever the intended outcome, losing half your employees to Microsoft certainly undermines it.

They forked a company.

Not a fork if you can't access whatever was prior before fork. This is a bifurcation. A new firecracker instance.

And now they are syncing the fork lmao

This is a brilliant take.

I’m shocked. But it is possible that Helen or Adam hatched this inept plan and somehow got Ilya to join along.

It was terrifyingly incompetent. The lack of thought by these randos, that they could fire the two hardest working people at the company so that they could run one of the most valuable companies in the world is mind boggling.

> two hardest working people at the company


Do you mean "highest paid"? I suspect there are engineers/scientists that are working harder than Sam at OpenAI. At the very least, who the "hardest working" at OpenAI is unknowable - likely even if you have inside knowledge.

Ok ...

< "the two"

> "two of"

And let me add

< "hardest working"

> "hardest working and talented"

Very similar to something that Adam was involved with before at Quora. https://x.com/gergelyorosz/status/1725741349574480047?s=46&t...

This is starting to look very staged. An elegant way to get out of the non-profit deadlock.

Looks to me like a commercial gpt-5 level model will be released at msft sooner than later.

Microsoft under Nadella always wins

That's the nice thing about being the hou^H^H^Hplatform.

- Fire Sam Altman

- I'm afraid I can't do that Ilya

ChatGPT is still not as advanced as HAL or he would have prevented this drama.

That's assuming the drama is not part of the multi-stage plan.

Shengjia Zhao's deleted tweet to Ilya: https://i.imgur.com/yrpXvt9.png

This tweet achieves absolutely nothing except give the impression of a weak leadership and that firing Sam Altman was done on a whim.

It now seems inevitable that the first* AGI will fall into the hands of Microsoft rather than OpenAI.

OpenAI won't keep their favorable Azure cloud compute pricing now MS have their own in-house AI function. That will set OpenAI back considerably, aside from the potential loss of their CEO and up to 490 other employees.

All of this seems to have worked out remarkably well for Microsoft. Nadella could barely have engineered a better outcome...

If Bill Gates (of Borg - I miss SlashDot) was still at the helm, a lot of people would be frightened by what's about to come (MS AGI etc). How does Nadella's ethical record compare? Are Microsoft the good guys now? Or are they still the bad guys, but after being downtrodden by Apple and Google, bad guys without the means to be truly evil?


*and last, if you believe the Doomers

> It now seems inevitable that the first* AGI will fall into the hands of Microsoft rather than OpenAI.

Avoiding this was literally the reason that OpenAI was founded.

For the record, I don't believe anyone at OpenAI or Microsoft is going to deliver AGI any time in the near future. I think this whole episode just proves that none of these people are remotely qualified to be the gatekeepers for anything.

> Are Microsoft the good guys now

I don't think any huge corporation is "the good guys", although sometimes they do some good things.

Wait ... so it was just the coup thing all along?

No AGI or some real threat coming up? Just a lame attempt at a power grab?


Come on, it's pretty delusional to think large scale transformer LMs alone could ever reach AGI.

Very clumsy all around.

When you're so close to something that you lose perspective but can still see that something is a trapdoor decision, sleep on it.

> When you're so close to something that you lose perspective but can still see that something is a trapdoor decision, sleep on it.

Advice I wish I could have given my younger self.

Someone suggested that companies with a board of directors are the first AGI.

Somehow OpenAI reminds me of a paper by Kenneth Colby, called "Artificial Paranoia"

[*] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/000437...

I often worry that I’m under qualified for my work.

But seeing how this board manages a $90,000,000,000 company, and is this silly/naive, I now feel a bit better knowing many people are faking it.

Except successful people just fail upwards.

Execs are allowed to do the dumbest shit imaginable and keep their jobs and bonuses.

The average engineer so much as takes a bit longer to push a ticket, and there's 5 people breathing down his neck.

Speaking from experience.

lol, the more i go through life i feel like it's just blind leading the blind at times w/ the "winners" escaping through a bizarre length of time and survivorship bias.

if you've ever doubted your ability to govern a company just look at exhibit A here.

really amazing to see people this smart fuck up so badly.

The big winner in this episode of Silicon Valley is the open-source approach to LLMs. If you haven't seen this short clip of Sam Altman and Ilya Sutskever looking like deer in the headlights when directly asked about it:


They sound a bit like Bill Gates being asked about Linux in 2000. For an overview of the open-source LLM world, this looks good:


Strange.. A vote was taken, the result incurred public consternation, and now a board member is contrite. This seems like ineffectual leadership at best. Board members should stand by their votes and the process, otherwise leave the board.

Same board member wrote 1 month ago...

"In the future, once the robustness of our models will exceed some threshold, we will have wildly effective and dirt cheap AI therapy. Will lead to a radical improvement in people’s experience of life. One of the applications I’m most eagerly awaiting."

Ilya doesn't regret firing Sam, he regrets "harm to OpenAI". He didn't expect this level of backlash and the fact 90% of the company would leave. He has no choice but to backtrack to try and save OpenAI, even if he looks like an even bigger fool

or at least issue a dissenting opinion at that time, not when it becomes convenient ... with some over-the-top emotional kumbaya

This is what happens when people are given too much money and influence too quickly- hubris. It's too late to 'deeply regret.'

Sama just triple hearts this tweet. No longer able to disentangle the mess

What a wild weekend... there are too many strange details to have a simple narrative in my head at this point.

Yeah. I need to take a break from theory crafting on this one. Too many surprises that have made it hard to draw a coherent line.

This plot keeps thickening

I'm eager to see how it all unfolds.

ilyasut 'regret': https://archive.is/2caSD

sama 'hearts': https://archive.is/OSLRM

Think the reconciliation is ON

I believe him. And that’s how Microsoft ended up being cheered by everyone as the good guy.

What’s there to believe? He made a bad, poorly thought through decision.

And honestly regrets it. Someone claimed he is faking regret for reasons, which is doubtful

I've been on multiple boards. This was the dumbest move I've ever seen. The OpenAI board must be truly incompetent and this Ilya person clearly had no business being on it.

This has been a rather apt demonstration of the way that auctoritas/authority/prestige/charisma can carry the day regardless of where the formal authority might be.

I sure would hire a guy like Ilya after that shit show. His petty title tweets before the event and now whatever this is. Turns out he is just another "Sunny".

He's still a genius when it comes to AI research, I wouldn't think twice about hiring him for that role.

That said, no one is going to put him on a corporate board again.

What / who do mean by "Sunny"?

Said it a million times: it was a doomer hijack by the NGO board members.

State-side counterintelligence must stop meddling in AI startups in such blatant ways, it's simply too inefficient, and at times when we most need transparency in the industry...

What is a doomer hijack?

I don't like this Christmas special of Succession

“I deeply regret the consequences of my actions and didn’t think it would turn out like this”

I don't have any stake in this, and don't care one way or another whether he got sacked. But this is pretty bizarre.

But didn't he start this? Like, did they think "I'll shoot for the king; if I miss, no big deal?"

This feels like it could be real remorse, and a true lapse of judgement based on good intentions. So, in the end: a story of Ilya, a truly principled but possibly naive scientist, and a board fixated on its charter. But in their haste, nothing happened as expected. Nobody foresaw the public and private support for Sam and Greg. An inevitability after months of brewing divergence between shareholder interests and an irreconcilably idealistic 503c charter.

I think we really need to see that Ilya demonstrates those principles and it wasn’t just a power grab.

You could also look at this as a brilliant scientist feels he doesn’t get recognition. Always sees Sam’s name. Resents it. The more gregarious people always getting the glory. Thinks he doesn’t need them and wants to settle some score that only exists in his own head.

This is too bizarre. I can’t. Impossible even.

And these people are building AGI?

No transparency on what is happening. Whole OpenAI who apparently are ready to follow Sam are just using heart emojis or the same twitter posts.

What a total mess this has been all around.

Nobody could have predicted this level of incompetence. I wonder if Satya has actually gutted OpenAI in some way and Ilya regrets it now big time.

Ilya is one of 490 employees that just threatened to leave OpenAI unless the board resigns:


Looks like he wasn't instrumental in the actions of the board.

He was on the board that took the decision to fire Altman and also is the new President of the OpenAI board of directors

I don’t think he’s getting a job at Microsoft, even if everyone else does.

I'm going to offer a surprising "devil's advocate" thought here and suggest it would be a brilliant strategic move for Sam and Satya to hire Ilya anyway. Ilya likely made a major blunder, but if he can learn from the mistake (and it seems like he may be in the process of doing so) then he could potentially come out of this wiser and more effective in a leadership role that he was previously unprepared for.

I don’t think his career is over, I’m sure he will take on another leadership role. Just not a Microsoft. It’s important that screwing people over has negative consequences or people will do it all the time.

Maybe got played by the quora guy? Though at this point maybe none of them fired altman and it was the AGI in the basement

Ooh, I love this theory.

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