Meet Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo, the newest OpenAI board of directors members. Or, more accurately, the board for the duration of this.
After Sam Altman was unceremoniously ousted as CEO of OpenAI last Friday, the company’s former board of directors struck an agreement “in principle” for Altman to return to OpenAI as CEO and a new “initial” slate of board members.
OpenAI made this announcement on Tuesday at about one in the morning Eastern Time. (He will succeed Emmett Shear, the acting CEO who held the position for the shortest time, and Mira Murati, the CTO of OpenAI.) This board will be chaired by Taylor, the former co-CEO of Salesforce, Summers, and D’Angelo, the CEO of Quora, a holdover from OpenAI’s previous board.
The term “initial” suggests that the board is temporary instead of ongoing. Furthermore, since this is an “in principle” situation, it is not tangible. We’ll have to wait for OpenAI to clarify, which should happen at a more appropriate time during the workday.
But if a Verge article is accurate, Altman and a Microsoft executive will probably be among the final nine members of the OpenAI board. Before Tuesday’s development, Microsoft considered whether to pursue a board seat, which may draw regulatory attention considering the business’s connection to OpenAI. The tech behemoth believes the governance and monitoring guarantees are worthwhile.
During the previous several days, rumors had been circulating regarding Taylor’s possible appointment to a new OpenAI board. Moreover, D’Angelo, reportedly pivotal in negotiations to bring Altman back into the OpenAI sphere, is set to receive ample support to maintain his position. Yet, Summers remains somewhat unpredictable.
You might be wondering, though, what a controversial economist and politically seasoned veteran (considering his remarks as Harvard president on the sex-based barriers that prevent women from excelling in math and science) is doing on the recently established OpenAI board.
To begin, a prior instance existed where a non-technical individual held a position on a startup’s board of directors. Will Hurd, a Republican, served as a member of the House of Representatives until he opted to relinquish his seat in pursuit of an unsuccessful presidential campaign.
However, my colleague Ingrid Lunden texted me to let me know that Summer’s appointment is also strategic. Given the growing policy scrutiny around the field, Summer establishes the ties that OpenAI will require and desire with governments, corporations, and academic institutions.
According to a Bloomberg article, Summers already has seats on a few tech boards, including those for Skillsoft Corp.’s software and Block, a payments business. Additionally, he advises Andreessen Horowitz.
OpenAI’s Initial New Board Counts:
OpenAI’s Initial New Board Counts [Source of Image: Techcrunch.com]
Furthermore, which coincides with OpenAI’s goals. Summers has stated in the open that he thinks AI will displace jobs in the United States in 50 to 100 years and that the country needs to stay competitive in the field to compete with geopolitical adversaries like China. Additionally, he predicted that ChatGPT, OpenAI’s popular AI-powered chatbot, would “[come] for the cognitive class”—making higher-skilled employment redundant first, drawing comparisons between it to the printing press and electricity.
OpenAI’s principal scientist, Ilya Sutskever, is a significant casualty in this scenario. Reportedly, Sutskever was among the board members advocating for Altman’s removal, resulting in him relinquishing a substantial level of authority within the business that he and Altman jointly established nearly eight years ago. Sutskever expresses regret, evident from his recent post on X (formerly Twitter). Anyone facing a similar circumstance would likely feel the same way.
Helen Toner, head of Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technologies, and tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley are also absent. Altman will be pleased with Toner’s removal from the board if yesterday night’s reports are any indication. Earlier in the year, Altman is rumored to have tried to get Toner removed because she co-wrote a paper that raised serious concerns about OpenAI’s safety procedures.
Regarding Brockman, it was first uncertain what would happen to him after he resigned from his position as president of OpenAI on Friday in opposition to the board’s choice of an Altman. The previous board fired Brockman and ironed, in OpenAI’s Tuesday, should have mentioned his reappointment statement.
However, Brockman acknowledged in a tweet that he will be “returning to OpenAI,” though maybe not in the role of president.