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Sam Altman leaving OpenAI, with its board saying it "no longer has confidence" in his leadership

Sam Altman, one of the most prominent figures in the emerging field of artificial intelligence, has been pushed out as CEO at OpenAI, with the company abruptly announcing on Friday that its board "no longer has confidence" in his leadership.

Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati will take the helm as the company's interim CEO. 

"Mr. Altman's departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI," the company said in its statement.

The 38-year-old's ouster seemingly took him and others by surprise. 

"I loved my time at OpenAI. It was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit. Most of all I loved working with such talented people," Altman said Friday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. "Will have more to say about what's next later," he added.

The suddenness of Altman's exit was noted by technology pundit Kara Swisher, who posted on X that Altman had been "very publicly" representing the company as recently as Thursday. The speed of his ouster "indicates it's more likely to be personal (you know what I mean) or money-related," Swisher wrote.

OpenAI CEO admits he fears artificial intelligence causing "significant harm to the world" 01:24

Murati, who has been at OpenAI for five years, was named the company's Chief Technology Officer last year and "already leads the company research, product and safety functions," said OpenAI, a leader in so-called generative artificial intelligence. 

Based in San Francisco, the technology startup founded in 2015 released online chatbot ChatGPT about a year ago, setting off an AI boom that made Altman famous and landed him meetings with President Joe Biden and other leaders. 

OpenAI's ChatGPT and image generator Dall-E brought generative AI into the mainstream, while also stirring debate about the technology's potential for replacing workers in a range of jobs and further blurring the line between content produced by machines and by people. OpenAI has also found itself the target of multiple lawsuits by authors, artists and others creators alleging that the company's technology copied their work. 

As CEO, Altman led a transformation of a little-known startup into a company engaged in talks to sell employee shares to investors at a valuation in excess of $80 billion, according to media outlets including Bloomberg News and the New York Times. Outspoken and known for stirring controversy, he has also attracted attention for sounding the alarm about the technology's potential threat to humanity

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