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“Mass Exodus? Employees at OpenAI Threaten to Quit After Sam Altman Joins Microsoft

OpenAI, the artificial intelligence laboratory with a mission to “ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity,” has found itself at the center of a controversy. After former CEO Sam Altman was announced as a Microsoft executive, employees of OpenAI have threatened to quit en masse in protest. The news came in the wake of a leaked email from OpenAI’s software engineering director, Timnit Gebru, in which she revealed that the company had placed her on administrative leave, following her critical Tweet about the organization’s AI research. As issues of inequality and representation in the tech industry came to the forefront, employees of OpenAI soon followed Gebru’s lead and threatened to leave the company if their demands for greater transparency and diversity were not addressed. In response, OpenAI’s board of directors presented a plan to improve the organization’s work environment, which included the formation of a new diversity, equity, and inclusion committee and the creation of a more inclusive workplace. Yet, the plan did little to assuage the employee’s frustrations. It appears that the situation has intensified further with the recent announcement of Sam Altman’s move to Microsoft. Altman’s scheduled departure from OpenAI was initially announced back in April, but the news of his announced move to a large tech corporation has further reignited the conflict between the company’s employees and its board of directors. At this point, it remains to be seen how OpenAI will handle the employee walkout threat. The company’s future is uncertain, but it seems clear that it will take tangible action to improve the work environment and make sure its employees feel valued and respected. Until then, OpenAI’s employees will have to wait and see if their demands are met.