Microsoft has confirmed that it has hired the recently ousted OpenAI founder and CEO Sam Altman and one of his co-founders Greg Brockman as the start-up at the heart of the AI industry faces backlash from staff. 

Altman was unexpectedly sacked from the board on Friday and OpenAI president Brockman was quick to resign following the news. Fellow board member and co-founder Ilya Sutskever voted in favour of firing Altman but has since voiced his “deep regret” for his actions and has signed an open letter to the board – of which he is part – along with 500 employees demanding that they resign.

The letter states that the board is “incapable of overseeing OpenAI” and that if they do not resign, the employees will join “the newly announced Microsoft subsidiary run by Sam Altman”.

Over a dramatic weekend, there were unsuccessful negotiations to bring Altman back to the company. OpenAI, the creator of the most advanced AI chatbot ChatGPT, has since appointed ex-Twitch boss Emmett Shear as interim CEO. Shear said she has opened an investigation into Altman’s dismissal.

On Monday, a flurry of identical posts on X (Twitter) appeared from OpenAI staffers signalling a rebellion. All of them stated: “OpenAI is nothing without its people”. So far, reports confirm that dozens have already quit. 

Microsoft, Altman and Brockman’s new employer, is OpenAI’s biggest backer having invested $13 billion in the start-up. On this close relationship, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said that his company would still have full support for OpenAI’s projects: “We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate…We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team and working with them.”

With all the panic about the limitless power of AI spelling the end for humans, it is refreshing to hear a story from Silicon Valley where human complexity is still the problem.

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