If there’s one abiding message to come out of November, it’s that this is a really bad time to be a tech bubble company CEO called Sam. Earlier this month, of course, Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced former CEO of crypto currency exchange FTX, was found guilty of fraud and awaits a sentence that could be over 100 years. Crypto currency and blockchain, though, were last year’s “everything everywhere” story. This year’s ubiquity is AI. And the highest profile AI player is OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT and the art platform DALL-E. ALLi's Self-publishing News Editor Dan Holloway reports.
This week, OpenAI briefly went into what has felt like meltdown as it sacked its longstanding CEO, Sam Altman. There is no official word as to the reason for the firing, with cryptic messages about candid communication. But there are several theories around the real reason for the breakdown. Altman has a reputation as a techno zealot, which may have started getting Board members twitchy.
The landscape is changing, even in countries like the US and UK that seek to position themselves as champions of tech entrepreneurship. Content creators like us are increasingly realising just how dependent tools like ChatGPT are upon our work. And that we are rights holders for that work. And haven’t been consulted on, let alone recompensed for, its use. And technology companies are increasingly realising that some kind of reckoning is coming. It wouldn’t be surprising if OpenAI thought Altman was the wrong person to be in charge when that day comes.
I think it would be worth creators everywhere starting to think about what happens when this day of reckoning arrives, and how to handle it. Because if I have learned anything from following corporate behemoths, it’s that what they will be angling for is a one-and-done compensation scheme. The figure will seem eye watering. Eye watering enough to draw a line for good. But when it’s broken down, it will amount to a fraction of what each curator believes they are worth. And there will be very narrow parameters of eligibility – parameters we need to watch for and make sure we fall within.
Breaking: It was inevitable, wasn't it? Schedule a story like this even a day in advance and the whole thing would be turned on its head. And indeed it has been. As I now write, Sam Altman has been rehired at OpenAI. This after pretty much every senior person at the company threatened to quit. And Microsoft offered to hire them. It seems that it will be the board, not Altman, who actually end up canned. There are many lessons we can take from this, to borrow a word from British politics, omnishambles. But the real thing to ponder over our cocoa tonight is how safe we feel that the technology with th epotential to end cvilization as we know it is currently run by people whose ability to organize themselves gives even the ineptest politician a faint sheen of competence.