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Sam Altman and Former OpenAI Team Join Microsoft’s AI Research Division

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In a surprising turn of events within the ongoing OpenAI narrative this weekend, Microsoft has made a strategic move by recruiting Sam Altman and Greg Brockman. This decision comes shortly after OpenAI confirmed that Altman would not be making a return. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, shared this development in a post on X.

Altman and Brockman, accompanied by their colleagues, are set to spearhead a new advanced AI research team at Microsoft. Despite expressing continued commitment to the partnership with OpenAI, Microsoft’s actions seem to cast a significant shadow of uncertainty on that collaboration. Furthermore, this development raises the possibility that a substantial portion of OpenAI’s talent pool could be transitioning to Microsoft, potentially impeding progress on the widely-utilized ChatGPT product.

Altman, who has maintained a relatively low profile since news of his dismissal surfaced on Friday, expressed gratitude to his OpenAI colleagues for their support. Confirming his new role at Microsoft on X, he stated, “The mission continues.” In response to Altman’s announcement, Nadella conveyed his enthusiasm, describing himself as “super excited” to have Altman as the CEO of the new group. Nadella pointed to Microsoft’s history of allowing founders and innovators space to build independent identities and cultures within the company, citing examples like GitHub and Mojang Studios.

The announcement of Altman’s appointment came shortly after speculation arose that he might return to OpenAI following his abrupt termination on Friday. This followed a wave of support for Altman from OpenAI employees, many of whom expressed their solidarity on social media.

Conversations between the involved parties broke down, leading OpenAI to confirm that Altman (alongside co-founder Greg Brockman) would not be making a return, and reports suggested that Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear had been appointed as OpenAI’s new CEO.

The narrative is far from concluded, as Altman’s termination confirmation and subsequent hiring by Microsoft raise numerous questions. Microsoft’s substantial investment of $13 billion, along with its 49 percent stake in the for-profit segment of OpenAI, adds complexity to the situation. Microsoft’s recent introduction of the Copilot AI assistant, powered by OpenAI’s technology, further complicates the dynamics.

The unique “capped-profit” corporate structure of OpenAI, featuring both for-profit and non-profit entities, has implications for Microsoft’s investment. Despite Nadella’s assurances, the partnership with OpenAI is likely to be impacted by Microsoft establishing its own AI research team, especially under the leadership of OpenAI’s former CEO. Given these intricacies, further developments in the unfolding story are expected.

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