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Tech Industry Shake-Up

ON THE JOB Sam Altman arrives on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., to appear before the Senate on September 13. NATHAN HOWARD—GETTY IMAGES

Recently, the tech industry was shaken up. The CEO of OpenAI was fired over disagreements about how to safely build artificial intelligence. OpenAI is the company that created the chatbot ChatGPT. Sam Altman ran the company. But on November 17, he was let go.

OpenAI is overseen by a board of directors. They make sure the company’s main goal is to benefit people, not just to make a profit. The board members who fired Altman may have been concerned about AI’s risks. It can be used to spread harmful misinformation.

When they heard Altman had been fired, many of the company’s employees threatened to quit. The tech company Microsoft offered to hire them and Altman. Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI. The board rehired Altman. Most of its members stepped down.

These events showed “how fragile the AI ecosystem is right now, including addressing AI’s risks,” Johann Laux says. He’s an expert at the Oxford Internet Institute, which focuses on AI oversight. Governments don’t have rules for developing AI, Laux says. Without these rules, “companies decide how a technology is rolled out.”

Stop and Think! Why do you think TFK has chosen to cover this story? How might you be affected by the decisions that tech companies make?