OpenAI Board Wasn't Informed Of ChatGPT Launch, Alleges Ex-Director Helen Toner: 'We Just Couldn't Believe Things That Sam Was Telling Us'


Former OpenAI board member, Helen Toner, has disclosed that the board was kept in the dark about the launch of the company’s chatbot, ChatGPT, in November 2022. The board members only discovered the launch via Twitter, now rebranded as X.

What Happened: In a podcast called The TED AI Show, which was shared on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday, Toner was having a conversation with ex-Google staffer and internet personality Bilawal Sidhu. During the conversation, she provided an in-depth account of the events leading to the abrupt dismissal of Sam Altman as CEO of the company last year in November.

“For years Sam had made it really difficult for the board to actually do the job by withholding information, misrepresenting things that were happening at the company, in some cases outright lying to the board.”

She gave one example of one such instance saying, “When ChatGPT came out in November 2022, the board was not informed in advance about that.” Adding, “We learned about ChatGPT on Twitter.”

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The release of ChatGPT was initially low-key. However, in the subsequent days and weeks, the chatbot’s proficiency in producing text that closely resembles human speech catapulted it to widespread popularity.

Another example she gave was alleging that Altman failed to disclose his participation in OpenAI’s startup fund.

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In a statement given to the TED podcast, OpenAI’s present board chief, Bret Taylor, expressed disappointment at Toner’s revelation. He said that an independent review of Altman’s dismissal concluded that the decision was not based on concerns about product safety, development pace, finances, or statements to investors, customers, or business partners, reported Bloomberg.

“We are disappointed that Ms. Toner continues to revisit these issues,” Taylor stated.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to Benzinga’s request for comments.

Why It Matters: The reasons behind Altman’s dismissal have been a subject of intense speculation in Silicon Valley. Initial reports suggested that Altman’s dismissal stemmed from a “misalignment” between profit and nonprofit principles within the company.

Later in November 2023, it was also reported that Altman and Toner disagreed on a widely debated topic in the AI industry: the balance between prioritizing safety and accelerating development. At the heart of this disagreement was a research paper authored by Toner, in which she scrutinized OpenAI’s strategy regarding AI safety while commending rival Anthropic.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Toner and Tasha McCauley called for measures to “tame market forces” for humanity’s sake.

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Disclaimer: This content was partially produced with the help of Benzinga Neuro and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

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