OpenAI’s New Board Members Are Now the Boss of Sam Altman (If They Want to Be)

OpenAI’s New Board Members Are Now the Boss of Sam Altman (If They Want to Be)

OpenAI has a new Board of Directors following its November skirmish, but they can still overrule CEO Sam Altman on any decisions he makes, according to a set of guidelines the company released Monday. That means if OpenAI creates artificial general intelligence (AGI), an AI system smarter than humans, the Board will have the final say in unleashing it.

“The OpenAI Board of Directors (BoD), as the ultimate governing body of OpenAI, will oversee OpenAI Leadership’s implementation and decision making,” said OpenAI in the guidelines. “While Leadership is the decision-maker, the Board of Directors holds the right to reverse decisions,” said OpenAI.

OpenAI says the Board of Directors still reigns supreme on all decisions, even though it nearly tanked the company last month by firing its CEO. Sam Altman and OpenAI President Greg Brockman lost their board seats as a result, meaning the company’s leadership no longer gets the final say. The company’s odd structure was a major reason for the November chaos, as the interests of the $US90 billion company butted heads with its non-profit board.

The guidelines titled “Preparedness Framework” detail OpenAI’s processes to evaluate, forecast, and protect against catastrophic risks posed by artificial intelligence. This is further evidence that OpenAI is actively working towards AGI, building on last week’s paper from its Superalignment team that proposed a process to train superhuman AI systems.

Currently, the Board of Directors consists of former CEO of Salesforce Bret Taylor, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and active CEO of Quora Adam D’Angelo. Microsoft has been guaranteed a non-voting board seat, and Chairman Taylor will soon appoint other board members. These folks will likely be responsible for deciding when OpenAI can unleash superhuman computers.

However, OpenAI’s old board members were largely researchers and outspoken advocates of AI safety, like Ilya Sutskever, Helen Toner, and Tasha McCauley. The new board members are big fans of Altman, with experience in politics and traditional profit-seeking ventures.

OpenAI says its Board of Directors is “the ultimate governing body of OpenAI”. The Board is now supposed to receive monthly documentation from OpenAI’s Preparedness team on progress towards AGI, ensuring the Board is fully informed. Last month, the Board accused Sam Altman of not keeping them fully informed and cited that as a major reason for firing him.

The Board of Director’s mission is to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity. Hopefully, the Board can stay true to its mission, instead of the for-profit interests led by Sam Altman. Given the fact that nearly all 700 employees and Microsoft were happy to jump ship without Sam Altman, that mission doesn’t look promising at the moment.

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