According to multiple sources cited by Reuters, a group of researchers from OpenAI penned a letter to the company’s advisory board expressing concerns about a “powerful discovery” in artificial intelligence (AI) that could pose a threat to humanity. Days later, the CEO of OpenAI, Sam Altman, returned to the company amidst turmoil. The development of a card and an AI algorithm, which played a crucial role in advancing ChatGPT, was seen as one of the catalysts for Altman’s dismissal. As a result, more than 700 employees of OpenAI threatened to resign and join Microsoft in solidarity with Altman, leading several major technology companies to take swift action to safeguard their investments.
The contents of the letter, which raised concerns about the commercialization of AI advancements before fully understanding the potential consequences, could be attributed to Altman’s dismissal. However, no copy of the letter was made available to Reuters, as the employees who wrote it ignored requests for feedback. OpenAI initially refused to comment when contacted by Reuters but later acknowledged a project called “Q*” in an internal memo to employees and a letter to management. A spokesperson for OpenAI stated that the message alerted the team about certain media reports without providing further details about their significance.
Certain employees at OpenAI view the “Q*” project, also known as Q-Star, as a notable advancement in the company’s research on artificial general intelligence (AGI). Artificial general intelligence refers to systems that can outperform humans in most economically valuable tasks. The new model developed under the Q-Star project reportedly exhibited the ability to solve certain mathematical problems due to its access to extensive computational resources. Despite having only been tested on elementary school math problems, researchers remain optimistic about the potential of the Q-Star project.
Researchers in the field of artificial intelligence see mathematics as a frontier for the development of creative AI. Current generative AI models excel at tasks such as writing and translating by predicting the next word statistically. However, mastering accounting tasks, which have a single correct answer, would require AI systems to possess reasoning abilities comparable to humans. Given this potential, experts believe that this development could contribute to new scientific studies.
Artificial general intelligence differs from calculators or machines that can only perform a limited number of operations. AGI possesses the capacity to generalize, learn, and comprehend. The researchers highlighted potential security concerns related to AI in their letter to the advisory board, although the specifics were not disclosed. The debate about the threats posed by superintelligent machines, and whether they would choose to harm humanity if given the opportunity, has long been a topic of discussion among computer scientists.
Additionally, researchers drew attention to the work of an “AI scientists team,” the existence of which has been confirmed by multiple sources. This team, formed by merging the pre-existing “Code Gen” and “Math Gen” teams, focuses on optimizing current AI models to enhance their reasoning capabilities and eventually engage in scientific endeavors. Altman played a pivotal role in transforming ChatGPT into one of the fastest-growing applications, attracting investments and computing resources from Microsoft to further advance AGI research.
During a recent demonstration, Altman unveiled a range of new tools and expressed his belief that significant advancements in AI technology were on the horizon. Addressing global leaders in San Francisco, he described the opportunity to be part of this progress as the “professional honor of a lifetime.” Altman informed the Cooperation Committee at OpenAI that he had witnessed significant breakthroughs, pushing the boundaries of ignorance aside and bringing the frontier of discovery into view. However, the following day, OpenAI’s leadership made the decision to terminate Altman’s employment.
Overall, the letter penned by OpenAI researchers, combined with concerns about the commercialization of AI advances and the emergence of the Q-Star project, resulted in the dismissal of OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman. This move prompted a significant number of employees to consider leaving the company in solidarity with Altman, raising concerns among major technology firms. The implications of this series of events for the future of OpenAI and the development of artificial general intelligence remain to be seen.