You win, or we all die.
Irrespective of whether or not the OpenAI board's removal of Sam Altman was because of AGI doom fears, has it now been established that even a pure of heart non-profit isn’t in a defensible position to safely steward building an AGI?
If a non-profit AI lab seems like they’re succeeding and indeed pumps the brakes, a megacorp will offer approximately $infinity to hire everyone away. We don't have to speculate. This weekend proves it.
Maybe not every AI lab is run by a charismatic plucky VC CEO that could easily enlist all of his employees to follow if he's opposed by a board, but there should be serious concerns now that "a people dynamic necessary to build a competent non-profit AI lab" and "not corruptible by material wealth and glory" is an impossible combination.
Will ChatGPT still exist by the end of the year? https://manifold.markets/Simon74fe/will-chatgpt-remain-operational-thr
By the end of 2024? https://manifold.markets/zzlk/will-openai-continue-to-run-chatgpt
The board could have, but did not, explain why they fired Sam. Note that all the explanations on AI safety, power grabs etc are all speculation. If they found a dangerous capabilities advance, then they could say that. If Sam lied to them about that advance, then say that. The fact that they don't defend themselves or their reasoning makes them seem crazy. Ilya's tweet in particular about how he regrets his actions seems very foolish. What was he originally thinking? Why did he change his mind? This seems like handing the most powerful models to MSFT without trying to make anything different happen.
Also, there was the internal memo from Lightcap:
"We can say definitively that the board's decision was not made in response to malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices. This was a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board."
Which would seem to rule out many of the theories for why Sam might have been fired.
As a skeptic of the doomer narrative, this feels much much more like the children running the show than anything else. Too much of the actions and rhetoric of the doomer community continue to look insane to someone not steeped in the lore and nuance, no matter how much I read any of the thinkers on the subject. It all reads like a religious cult explaining how obvious the return of their alien overlords is and how you just need to have a cup of this really nice Cool-Aid they made so that the aliens know you're cool when they get back. Further this ties in quite nicely with a clean narrative of the rationalist and EA communities eating themselves by becoming so disconnected from reality and focused on weird concerns that outsiders are entirely lost. The response from those communities seems to be a "Good, if you weren't sufficiently devoted to the cause then we're glad to lose you," far too much like a No True Scotsman. Even worse, the deeper into the doom cult it goes, the more it seems to get regulatory scrutiny in the worst possible ways. No one wins in this clownshow and I'm sorry to see it, but at least it exposes the "rationality" of the people involved. We'll see if the MS subsidiary is actually a stable relationship or if we're about to get 10 new Anthropics when the lead engineers run into big corp roadblocks, but either way this is going to be a wild ride for another several months at least.
Thanks for the list. A commenter on HackerNews points out the lack of dates and times in your list, even though you announce "All times stated here are eastern". Possibly adding them back would be helpful.
I'm not intelligent enough to understand the AI situation, but, I do love the Gettysburg address. For those who are not familiar:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
I've read virtually every word you've written since I discovered your COVID posts just before the Omicron wave, and I just want to say - once again, you've managed to research and write a much more informative and useful perspective on this situation, than any media source I've read, mainstream or otherwise. Thank-you for what you're doing and Happy Thanksgiving Zvi to you and your family - the world needs you and what you're doing right now
To the point and clear as usual, if I hadn't been biting my fingers watching every move through the weekend, this would've made a great summary. Great use for anyone that's out of the loop and wants some info.
As an erratum, Altman's joke was ‘AGI has been achieved internally’ not ‘AI has been achieved internally’ at the end of point 14.
Looks like it’s all over, as Altman and Brockman return. Presumably we’ll see the new board restructured or stuffed in such a way that this won’t happen again? Now to try and deduce why it happened!