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OpenAI Cofounder Who Pushed Out Sam Altman Is In a Confusing Limbo

Do The Limbo

After moving to oust Sam Altman, OpenAI cofounder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever is in a sort of limbo, and nobody seems to know what will happen next.

As Business Insider reports based on interviews with people in the know — who spoke on the condition that their identities remain anonymous — it remains unclear what role Sutskever will play in the AI firm moving forward after turning on Altman just before OpenAI's Thanksgiving week massacre.

"Ilya is always going to have had an important role," one of those insiders said. "But, you know, there are a lot of other people who are picking up and taking that responsibility that historically Ilya had."

Ouch. Before the incredible failed coup at the company, Sutskever was far from a household name, and fewer still knew who he was before ChatGPT burst onto the scene a year ago.

Known primarily for his outlandish statements about algorithmic sentience, the Russian-born researcher is considered something of an "AI god" by his acolytes — and now is thought of as a traitor to others who think he won't be able to come back from voting alongside two fellow (and now former) OpenAI board members to fire Altman as CEO over vague accusations of dishonesty.

What's Going On

According to two insiders who spoke to BI, Sutskever hasn't been seen in the firm's San Francisco offices all week, and his position within the company is "to be determined," one of those sources said.

This isn't exactly surprising given that Altman hinted pretty explicitly in his note following his re-hiring as CEO that although he has "zero ill will" towards his fellow cofounder, the company is nevertheless "discussing how he can continue his work at OpenAI." In an interview with The Verge, however, the CEO did admit that he was "hurt and angry" that Sutskever had essentially shanked him Brutus-style.

Sutskever, for his part, has also been making some vague statements online suggesting continued tumult at OpenAI.

In one since-deleted tweet, he posted a reference to the memetic phrase "the beatings will continue until morale improves," which he said "applies more often than it has any right to." In another post made on his art Instagram, this one still up, he posted a stern-looking cloud head — though that one, at least, looks more like the artist himself than any of his coworkers.

As BI's sources described, the working relationship between Altman, Sutskever, and Greg Brockman — the other cofounder who resigned in solidarity with the CEO after his ouster, and who was brought back upon his return — has soured tremendously.

"Once trust is broken," one former staffer explained, "it cannot be regained."

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