OpenAI co-founder resigns after launch of new ChatGPT

Ilya Sutskever says he’s moving on to a ‘very personally meaningful’ mystery project

Anthony Cuthbertson
Wednesday 15 May 2024 13:00 BST
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Ilya Sutskever, co-founder and Chief Scientist of OpenAI, speaks at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv on 5 June, 2023
Ilya Sutskever, co-founder and Chief Scientist of OpenAI, speaks at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv on 5 June, 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)

The co-founder of ChatGPT creator OpenAI has left the company just days after unveiling the company’s latest AI chatbot.

Ilya Sutskever, who also served as the company’s chief scientist, announced his departure after nearly a decade at OpenAI on Tuesday, adding that he was moving on to work on a mystery project that he described as “very personally meaningful”.

Microsoft-backed OpenAI sparked a race among the world’s largest tech companies for dominance in the emerging generative AI field after releasing ChatGPT in 2022.

On Monday, the company unveiled its new GPT-4o model, which can see, hear, speak and reason, while achieving a human-level response time.

Jakub Pachocki will be the company’s new chief scientist, the company said on its blog. Mr Pachocki has previously served as OpenAI’s director of research and led the development of GPT-4 and OpenAI Five.

Mr Sutskever played a key role in Mr Altman’s dramatic firing and rehiring in November last year. At the time, Sutskever was on the board of OpenAI and helped to orchestrate Mr Altman’s firing.

Days later, he reversed course, signing onto an employee letter demanding Mr Altman’s return and expressing regret for his “participation in the board’s actions.”

After Mr Altman returned, Mr Sutskever was removed from the board and his position at the company became unclear.

Mr Sutskever’s exit comes a day after the company said at an event on Monday that it would release a new AI model called GPT-4o, capable of realistic voice conversation and able to interact across texts and images.

Shortly after launching in late 2022, ChatGPT was called the fastest application ever to reach 100 million monthly active users. However, worldwide traffic to ChatGPT’s website has been on a roller-coaster ride in the past year and is only now returning to its May 2023 peak, according to analytics firm Similarweb.

Mr Sutskever has long been a prominent researcher in the AI field. Before founding OpenAI, he worked as a researcher at Google Brain, and was a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford, according to his personal website. He started his career working with Geoffrey Hinton, one of the so-called “godfathers of AI”.

Mr Altman posted a farewell message on X, writing: “This is very sad to me; Ilya is easily one of the greatest minds of our generation, a guiding light of our field, and a dear friend. His brilliance and vision are well known; his warmth and compassion are less well known but no less important.”

Additional reporting from agencies

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