Former OpenAI employees have come out as whistleblowers, exposing a frightening story of alleged misbehaviour, manipulation, and a hostile work environment within the acclaimed artificial intelligence research organisation.
The whistleblowers' detailed letter, dated November 21, 2023, has not only sent shockwaves through the AI community but has also prompted the removal of CEO Sam Altman and President Greg Brockman by the OpenAI Board of Directors.
The letter, written to the Board, offers a bleak image of an OpenAI culture rife with deception, manipulation, and ethical violations at the highest levels.
Former employees, who left the organisation during a period of internal turmoil, outline a number of serious allegations, including forced employee departures, deceptive research reporting practises, discriminatory behaviour, and alleged personal exploitation of OpenAI's resources.
One of the letter's main claims is that multiple staff were forced to leave during OpenAI's shift from a non-profit to a for-profit business.
According to the whistleblowers, this approach was part of a larger plan to reform the organisation, with a reported attrition rate of roughly 50% between January 2018 and July 2020.
The letter also focuses on particular occurrences, such as Altman's claimed demand that researchers hide progress reports on "secret" initiatives and Brockman's alleged use of discriminatory language towards a gender-transitioning team member.
The whistleblowers express worry about a culture of fear and intimidation in which dissenting voices have been stifled, impeding ethical debates concerning OpenAI's work.
Although the precise rationale behind the Board's decision was not immediately revealed, the accusations made by whistleblowers now shed light on the internal issues that preceded the change in leadership.
Elon Musk has expressed his view that the letter addressing concerns about OpenAI, which was sent to him, appears to be significant and warrants a thorough investigation.
Musk, known for his involvement in the founding of OpenAI and his keen interest in artificial intelligence, has acknowledged the gravity of the issues raised in the letter.
The concerns outlined by former employees regarding alleged misconduct and manipulation within the organisation seem to have captured Musk's attention, prompting him to advocate for a comprehensive inquiry into the matter.
This letter about OpenAI was just sent to me.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 21, 2023
These seem like concerns worth investigating.https://t.co/hnAepyfLE6
The revelation has the AI community reeling, raising concerns about OpenAI's future and possible effects on ongoing research projects.
By sharing their stories, the whistleblowers have brought attention to concerns about accountability, ethics, and transparency.
This has put pressure on OpenAI to resolve internal difficulties and rebuild public confidence in its goal of advancing artificial general intelligence.