The recent drama at OpenAI, where CEO Sam Altman was briefly dismissed by the board of directors only to be rapidly reinstated, has sparked discussion about the company prioritizing profits over its original nonprofit mission. An L.A. Times op-ed penned by MIT economists Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson suggested the shakeup ushers in a “new and scary era” at OpenAI. MicrosoftMSFT-1.5%, a major investor, helped orchestrate Altman’s return despite resistance from the nonprofit board, suggesting OpenAI may now primarily chase commercial success rather than focus on its broader social impacts.
While Professors Acemolgu and Johnson are probably correct that OpenAI and its partner Microsoft are now prioritizing profits over fashionable intellectual trends like AI apocalypticism, this shift is actually a positive development.
Open AI’s unusual structure consists of a for-profit arm that is fully owned and controlled by its parent nonprofit. This structure allows OpenAI to attract capital and talent competitive with leading for-profit tech companies, while also claiming to adhere to its overarching mission, which is “to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.”
Read the full article on Forbes.