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Sam Altman’s Rollercoaster: From Termination to Reinstatement at OpenAI

In an exclusive interview with Trevor Noah on the “What Now?” podcast, Sam Altman, the reinstated CEO of OpenAI, candidly shared his experience of being abruptly terminated by the former board of the artificial intelligence startup he co-founded. Altman revealed the emotional turmoil he faced during this unexpected turn of events.

Termination in Las Vegas

Altman disclosed that he received the shocking news of his termination while in a Las Vegas hotel room during the Formula 1 Grand Prix on Nov. 17. He described the experience as surreal, chaotic, and painful, emphasizing his confusion and the unprecedented manner in which the termination was executed.

Overwhelming Response

Following the call, Altman experienced an overwhelming influx of messages, rendering his smartphone unusable. He noted that even Microsoft reached out. Despite the abrupt nature of his dismissal, Altman remained focused on moving forward, contemplating his involvement with advanced general intelligence (AGI).

Unexpected Turn of Support

As Altman grappled with the aftermath, messages poured in from individuals expressing their desire to work with him in any future endeavor. While returning to OpenAI wasn’t initially on his mind, Altman maintained support for the organization and sought clarity on the situation.

Personal Toll and Reflection

Noah observed that Altman refrained from making disparaging remarks about OpenAI post-termination, suggesting the impact on Altman. In response, Altman acknowledged the toll it took on him, drawing parallels with the sudden loss of his father. He described the firing as “unbelievably painful” and likened the experience to navigating the aftermath of a personal tragedy.

Looking Forward

Altman, who played a pivotal role in the development of ChatGPT, expressed that AGI and his family are his primary concerns. He underscored his deep care for OpenAI, its people, users, and shareholders. Despite the pain, Altman refrained from making comparisons but acknowledged the echoes of past personal challenges.

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