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Breaking: OpenAI Disbands Team Focused on Long-Term AI Risk Breaking: OpenAI Disbands Team Focused on Long-Term AI Risk
OpenAI has disbanded its team focused on the long-term risks of artificial intelligence just one year after the group was announced.... Breaking: OpenAI Disbands Team Focused on Long-Term AI Risk

OpenAI has disbanded its team focused on the long-term risks of artificial intelligence just one year after the group was announced. The decision was confirmed to CNBC on Friday by a person familiar with the situation, who requested anonymity. Some team members are being reassigned to other teams within the company.

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This news follows the recent departures of both team leaders, OpenAI co-founders Ilya Sutskever and Jan Leike. Leike expressed his concerns on social media, stating that OpenAI’s “safety culture and processes have taken a backseat to shiny products.”

The Superalignment team, announced last year, aimed at achieving “scientific and technical breakthroughs to steer and control AI systems much smarter than us.” OpenAI has committed 20% of its computing power to this initiative over four years.

Despite the dissolution, OpenAI directed inquiries to co-founder and CEO Sam Altman’s recent post on X (formerly Twitter), where he expressed his sadness over Leike’s departure and acknowledged the company’s ongoing work.

Leike provided further insights into his departure on X, revealing a longstanding disagreement with OpenAI leadership about the company’s core priorities. “I joined because I thought OpenAI would be the best place in the world to do this research,” Leike wrote. He highlighted the need for the company to focus more on security, monitoring, preparedness, safety, and societal impact.

These problems are quite hard to get right, and I am concerned we aren’t on a trajectory to get there,” he wrote. Leike also mentioned struggles for computing resources, which hindered crucial research. He emphasized that OpenAI must become a “safety-first AGI company,” stressing the inherent dangers of building smarter-than-human machines and the significant responsibility OpenAI holds on behalf of humanity.

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Sutskever and Leike’s departures were first reported by Wired. On Tuesday, both announced their exits on the social media platform X. Leike elaborated on Friday, explaining the reasons behind his decision to leave, while OpenAI has yet to provide a formal comment.

The high-profile departures come months after OpenAI experienced a leadership crisis involving Altman. In November, OpenAI’s board ousted Altman, citing a lack of consistent candor in his communications with the board.

The situation escalated, with media outlets like The Wall Street Journal reporting internal conflicts about the direction of AI development at OpenAI. Altman’s removal led to significant turmoil within the company, including resignations and investor dissatisfaction. However, within a week, Altman was reinstated, and board members who had voted for his ouster were removed, except for Adam D’Angelo.

Altman’s sentiments about Sutskever’s departure were shared on X. “This is very sad to me; Ilya is easily one of the greatest minds of our generation, a guiding light of our field, and a dear friend,” Altman wrote. Jakub Pachocki, a long-time research director at OpenAI, will replace Sutskever as chief scientist.

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The dissolution of the Superalignment team coincides with OpenAI’s latest product launches, including a new AI model and a desktop version of ChatGPT. The update, featuring the GPT-4 model, aims to enhance user accessibility and performance. Mira Murati, OpenAI’s technology chief, announced that the new model, GPT-4o, offers improved capabilities in text, video, and audio. OpenAI plans to introduce video chat functionality for ChatGPT in the future, marking a significant step forward in user experience.

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