According to news on November 21, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an interview on Monday local time that no matter where former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman ended up, OpenAI governance structures need to be changed.
“At this point I think it’s clear that corporate governance has to change,” Nadella said, adding that Microsoft would have “friendly conversations with the OpenAI board about this.”
This is Nadella’s first interview since Altman’s departure from OpenAI. Nadella dismissed concerns that Altman’s departure would have a long-term negative impact on OpenAI. He said critical artificial intelligence research work will continue, as will OpenAI’s collaboration with Microsoft. But he did not say what Altman and OpenAI co-founder and former company president Greg Brockman would ultimately be responsible for.
Nadella said earlier on Monday that Altman, Brockman and their colleagues would join a new artificial intelligence research group at Microsoft. Emmett Shear, the former CEO of live streaming video platform Twitch, will be appointed interim head of OpenAI. Throughout the development, it became less clear whether Altman and Brockman would actually join Microsoft.
Nearly all OpenAI employees signed a joint letter to the company’s board of directors asking for their resignations, or they may choose to leave to join Altman’s staff. Ilya Sutskever also signed the joint letter.
Nadella said OpenAI employees can choose whether to stay in their current jobs or go to Microsoft. He added that Microsoft has what it takes to continue to innovate.
“I welcome both options,” Nadella said.
The possibility of Altman’s quick reinstatement began to emerge with news on Saturday that a number of high-profile investors, including Microsoft, Tiger Global, Thrive Capital and Sequoia Capital, were working to overturn the board’s decision a day earlier. Since none of these companies has a board seat, they were unaware of the OpenAI board’s decision to fire Altman.
Late Saturday night, Altman wrote on the social platform post and included a heart symbol. Several other OpenAI employees did the same.
Nadella said that Microsoft respects OpenAI’s non-profit foundation and recognizes the need to develop and promote artificial intelligence in a safe manner.
“What we want to make sure is that we not only enjoy the benefits of technology, but we also deal with the unintended consequences of technology from the beginning, rather than just waiting for things to happen,” Nadella said.