OpenAI Chief Scientist and Cofounder Ilya Sutskever Leaves AI Giant for Personal Project

Six months after helping lead an attempt to oust OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, then changing his mind, OpenAI chief scientist and co-founder Ilya Sutskever is officially leaving the AI giant. His co-lead on a critical OpenAI project also abruptly resigned Tuesday night.

Sutskever took to X on Tuesday evening to state that he was departing the company he helped create after nearly a decade. He said he was “confident” that OpenAI would build “safe and beneficial” AI under CEO Sam Altman’s leadership and posted a picture showing him next to Altman and other OpenAI leaders.

“Safe and beneficial” AI was what Sutskever helped oversee. Sutskever co-led the superalignment team at OpenAI, which ensures that AI follows what humans want it to do, even as its capabilities expand.

“Currently, we don’t have a solution for steering or controlling a potentially superintelligent AI, and preventing it from going rogue,” OpenAI wrote in a July 2023 post introducing the superalignment team, adding later: “We need new scientific and technical breakthroughs.”

Related: OpenAI Demos Voice Engine, But Not Ready for Wide Release

Jan Leike, who co-led the superalignment team with Sutskever, posted “I resigned” within hours following Sutskever’s departure post on X.

Business Insider reports that other members of the superalignment team have also left OpenAI in recent months.

In November, Sutskever and other board members attempted to fire Altman after concluding that Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications” with them, but backtracked within days after investor and employee backlash. Sutskever was the one to tell Altman that he was being fired.

Sutskever hasn’t been seen in the office since the November shake-up, per The New York Times.

Related: OpenAI Develops Custom 1930s AI Bot For Met Gala Exhibition

Jakub Pachocki, previously OpenAI’s director of research, will take over as chief scientist. Pachocki was one of three senior OpenAI researchers to resign a day after Altman’s dismissal in November, and return after Altman returned.

He and Altman had nothing but praise for Sutskever’s work.

Sutskever said that he was “excited for what comes next — a project that is very personally meaningful to me about which I will share details in due time.”

OpenAI launched a new AI model on Monday with advanced tools for free users.

Related: OpenAI’s Launches New AI Chatbot, GPT-4o

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