Elon Musk defends OpenAI’s cofounder Ilya Sutskever

Elon Musk defends OpenAI’s cofounder Ilya Sutskever

  • Elon Musk says OpenAI’s Ilya Sutskever wouldn’t have fired Sam Altman unless it was necessary.
  • “Ilya has a good moral compass and does not seek power,” the former OpenAI board member said.
  • Musk told CNBC in May that he was responsible for Sutskever’s hiring.

Elon Musk has come to the defense of OpenAI cofounder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever’s role in former CEO Sam Altman’s ouster.

“Ilya has a good moral compass and does not seek power,” Musk wrote in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday.

“He would not take such drastic action unless he felt it was absolutely necessary,” Musk continued.

The ChatGPT-maker announced Altman’s firing on Friday. OpenAI’s board said in a statement that Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board” but has not given further details.

The suddenness of Altman’s departure triggered other senior exits from OpenAI, including cofounder Greg Brockman, and intense speculation as to the board’s reasoning.

Sutskever, who remains at OpenAI, was concerned that Altman hadn’t given enough consideration to the dangers posed by OpenAI’s work, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

This isn’t the first time Musk has weighed in on the drama surrounding OpenAI’s leadership changes. Earlier, he called for greater transparency on Altman’s firing, citing AI’s potential dangers.

Given the risk and power of advanced AI, the public should be informed of why the board felt they had to take such drastic action,” Musk wrote on X on Sunday.

Musk was previously on OpenAI’s board of directors. He resigned in 2018 over possible conflicts of interest with Tesla’s work on self-driving cars. He has since grown critical of Altman’s leadership of OpenAI. He has indicated through posts on X over the weekend that he doesn’t have inside information on the OpenAI drama.

Musk also has reason to stir up a sense of discord at OpenAI. Under Musk’s ownership, X has doubled down on AI development and released a chatbot to rival ChatGPT, Grok. Altman criticized Grok at the time of its release, commenting on the bot’s “cringey boomer humor.”

During an interview with CNBC’s David Faber in May, Musk said he was the reason OpenAI exists. The billionaire also took credit for building up OpenAI’s talent, including Sutskever’s hiring.

“Ilya joining was the linchpin for OpenAI being ultimately a success,” Musk told Faber.

On Monday, Emmett Shear, the former CEO of Twitch, was named the new interim CEO of OpenAI. Also on Monday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that Altman and former OpenAI president Greg Brockman were joining Microsoft.

Representatives for Musk and OpenAI did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.

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