A very good read from a respected source!

BUSINESS INSIDER. OpenAI’s chaos has both hastened the arms race to AI dominance and opened the door to competitors

Monica Melton

Nov 25, 2023, 10:00 AM GMT

  • OpenAI chaos has calmed as CEO Sam Altman is reinstated and an investigation begins.

  • The events surrounding the unexplained ouster have sowed concern and new scrutiny.

  • AI experts eye safety, responsibility, and the potential new entrants contending for dominance.

The drama of Sam Altman unexpectedly being fired on Friday and then reinstated to OpenAI Tuesday night has reached a close. In its wake, a host of questions and concerns remain about the safety and ethics of artificial intelligence.

The pace at which OpenAI developed its technology as it eyed a share sale that could value it at $90 billion has been a contentious point for tech leaders and competitors who are nervous about a consolidation of power.

As the dust settles on OpenAI’s action-packed week, the chaos set in motion by OpenAI’s board may accelerate an existing arms race among competitors vying to achieve artificial general intelligence. Altman’s saga also presents an unsettling irony about the mission of its leaders.

“A high-level irony to this situation is you have a bunch of people who are trying to develop this technology that will affect the entire future of humanity, and part of that development is ensuring that it’s safe, which means anticipating potentially catastrophic risks,” Émile Torres, a philosopher and AI researcher, told Business Insider.

What didn’t kill OpenAI may have made it stronger. A nearly unanimous coup within the company in response to Altman’s ouster and the nixing of its board has made Altman and those in his corner even more influential. AI ethics experts have expressed concern about the power of AI technology being controlled by the hands of a few.

“The increasing concentration of capital, compute, and data are a problem,” Emily M. Bender, a University of Washington linguistics professor, told BI. “Not because one of them is going to hit critical mass and combust into AGI, but rather because it’s a situation where we’re falling for this narrative that the ability to just collect data willy-nilly has to be allowed because it’s a necessary ingredient for this so-called artificial intelligence.”

With Microsoft as a juggernaut in its corner, OpenAI can wield that power in ways that either reinforce or degrade trust.

“Microsoft has always had this anxiety about being left out of the major wave of tech, most aptly illustrated with search and Google,” Ali Alkhatib, an AI ethicist and researcher, told BI. “Now that they have Sam and OpenAI, they have the people they need to stay ahead of this burgeoning bubble.”

OpenAI’s high-profile reshuffling may have sowed enough doubt in the minds of the customers, investors, and community building and influencing AI that they avoid betting the technology’s future on one entity.

“We had so much belief in OpenAI that if something happens, it’s like the whole AI community falls apart, but that’s not true,” Giada Pistilli, Hugging Face’s principal ethicist, told BI. “Maybe it’s the chance for other open-source companies to take the lead, so it could be seen as an opportunity.”

The seemingly earth-shattering news from OpenAI may have instead opened a door for resourcefulness and for other players to emerge.

“To be honest, I didn’t see a shift from what happened,” Pistilli said. “I see more and more people being creative.”