Microsoft's recent inclusion in OpenAI's board as a nonvoting observer marks a significant development in the relationship between the two companies. This move follows a tumultuous period at OpenAI, characterized by CEO Sam Altman's dismissal and subsequent reinstatement by the startup's controlling nonprofit board.
OpenAI's association with Microsoft has been deepening, especially since Microsoft's substantial $13 billion investment into the startup. This partnership also saw the integration of OpenAI's AI models into various Microsoft programs. However, despite this close collaboration, Microsoft previously did not have an official seat on OpenAI's board, a situation that left it somewhat out of the loop during the recent upheaval involving Altman.
Sam Altman expressed positivity about Microsoft's involvement, emphasizing the rightness of partnering with the tech giant. He also praised the OpenAI team for their resilience during the period of instability, noting that no employees were lost during the upheaval.
The board of directors, now being rebuilt, includes notable figures like former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo. Taylor, who is heading the new board, has expressed his commitment to enhancing OpenAI’s corporate governance and plans to step down once the board is fully established and the company stabilizes.
Meanwhile, Mira Murati has resumed her role as OpenAI's chief technology officer, and Greg Brockman is back as president. The board's composition is undergoing changes, with most members who were serving at the time of Altman's removal, except for D’Angelo, having left.
The reasons behind Altman's initial firing, which centered around issues of transparency, remain somewhat ambiguous. Speculations include debates over AI safety and the pace of development of OpenAI's advanced AI technologies.
Helen Toner, an ex-board member, emphasized that the decision to remove Altman was based on the board’s ability to effectively supervise the company. Toner's background in AI safety and governance underscores the complexities and responsibilities associated with developing AI technologies.
Sam Altman, acknowledging the situation, has expressed a commitment to learning from the experience and applying those lessons as OpenAI progresses. The involvement of Microsoft as a nonvoting observer on OpenAI's board suggests a deeper commitment to the partnership and a shared vision for the future of AI development. This collaboration could have far-reaching implications for the advancement and governance of AI technologies.