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Mass Exodus Looms at OpenAI as Over 500 Employees Threaten Resignation

A significant portion of OpenAI’s workforce is contemplating a mass exodus to Microsoft following the ousting of CEO Sam Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman. Over 500 current OpenAI employees have signed a letter to the company’s board, expressing their intention to resign and join Microsoft’s new “advanced AI research team,” led by Altman and Brockman. The letter alleges that Microsoft has assured them positions in this new subsidiary, prompting their collective decision.

The employees demand the reinstatement of Altman and Brockman, threatening to leave OpenAI if the board does not comply. However, the board has already chosen to retain its position and appoint a new CEO, while Altman and Brockman transition to Microsoft. The letter accuses the board of jeopardizing their work and undermining the company’s mission. It refutes claims that OpenAI was advancing too rapidly without considering safety, emphasizing the global impact of their work on AI safety and governance.

With approximately 700 employees at OpenAI, more signatures are expected to be added to the letter. The letter, circulating since Altman’s removal, may pose a challenge for the board to address its demands, given the recent developments. OpenAI’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, expressed regret for his role in the board’s actions and pledged to reunite the company. Notably, Sutskever’s name is also among those resigning.

Microsoft’s creation of an “advanced AI research team” to accommodate former OpenAI employees, with Altman at the helm, marks an unconventional move for the tech giant. Altman’s hiring follows unsuccessful negotiations with OpenAI’s board, leading to his departure. Emmett Shear, former Twitch CEO, is named interim CEO for OpenAI. Microsoft’s strategic move into advanced AI research aligns with its recent development of a custom AI chip, aiming to train large language models independently of Nvidia.

As of November 20th, over 650 employees have signed the letter, with indications that more signatures will follow. The situation continues to evolve, raising questions about the future direction of both OpenAI and Microsoft in the field of advanced AI research.