Another bit of evidence about OpenAI that I think is worth mentioning in this context: OPP recommended a grant of $30M to OpenAI in a deal that involved OPP’s then-CEO becoming a board member of OpenAI. OPP hoped that this will allow them to make OpenAI improve their approach to safety and governance. Later, OpenAI appointed both the CEO’s fiancée and the fiancée’s sibling to VP positions.
Both of whom then left for Anthropic with the split, right?
Yes. To be clear, the point here is that OpenAI’s behavior in that situation seems similar to how, seemingly, for-profit companies sometimes try to capture regulators by paying their family members. (See 30 seconds from this John Oliver monologue as evidence that such tactics are not rare in the for-profit world.)
Makes sense; it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what’s happening. I think this perhaps understates the degree to which the attempts at capture were mutual—a theory of change where OPP gives money to OpenAI in exchange for a board seat and the elevation of safety-conscious employees at OpenAI seems like a pretty good way to have an effect. [This still leaves the question of how OPP assesses safety-consciousness.]I should also note find the ‘nondisparagement agreements’ people have signed with OpenAI somewhat troubling because it means many people with high context will not be writing comments like Adam Scholl’s above if they wanted to, and so the absence of evidence is not as much evidence of absence as one would hope.
Does everyone who work at OpenAI sign a non-disparagement agreement? (Including those who work on governance/policy?)
Sooo this was such an intriguing idea that I did some research—but reality appears to be more boring:
In a recent informal discussion I believe said OPP CEO remarked he had to give up the OpenAI board seat as his fiancée joining Anthropic creates a conflict of interest. Naively this is much more likely, and I think is much better supported by the timelines.According to LinkedIn of the mentioned fiancée joined in already as VP in 2018 and was promoted to a probably more serious position in 2020, and her sibling was promoted to VP in 2019.The Anthropic split occurred in June 2021. A new board member (who is arguably very aligned to OPP) was inducted in September 2021, probably in place of OPP CEO.It is unclear when OPP CEO exactly left the board, but I would guess sometime in 2021. This seem better explained by “conflict of interest with his fiancée joining-cofounding Anthropic” and OpenAI putting an other OPP-aligned board member in his place wouldn’t make for very productive scheming.
The “conflict of interest” explanation also matches my understanding of the situation better.