Ilya Sutskever and Jan Leike resign from OpenAI

Link post

Ilya Sutskever and Jan Leike have resigned. They led OpenAI’s alignment work. Superalignment will now be led by John Schulman, it seems. Jakub Pachocki replaced Sutskever as Chief Scientist.

Reasons are unclear (as usual when safety people leave OpenAI).

The NYT piece and others I’ve seen don’t really have details. Archive of NYT if you want to read it anyway.

OpenAI announced Sutskever’s departure in a blogpost.

Sutskever and Leike confirmed their departures in tweets.

Updates (Friday May 17):

Superalignment dissolves.

Leike tweets, including:

I have been disagreeing with OpenAI leadership about the company’s core priorities for quite some time, until we finally reached a breaking point.

I believe much more of our bandwidth should be spent getting ready for the next generations of models, on security, monitoring, preparedness, safety, adversarial robustness, (super)alignment, confidentiality, societal impact, and related topics.

These problems are quite hard to get right, and I am concerned we aren’t on a trajectory to get there.

Over the past few months my team has been sailing against the wind. Sometimes we were struggling for compute and it was getting harder and harder to get this crucial research done.

Building smarter-than-human machines is an inherently dangerous endeavor. OpenAI is shouldering an enormous responsibility on behalf of all of humanity.

But over the past years, safety culture and processes have taken a backseat to shiny products.

Daniel Kokotajlo talks to Vox:

“I joined with substantial hope that OpenAI would rise to the occasion and behave more responsibly as they got closer to achieving AGI. It slowly became clear to many of us that this would not happen,” Kokotajlo told me. “I gradually lost trust in OpenAI leadership and their ability to responsibly handle AGI, so I quit.”

Kelsey Piper says:

I have seen the extremely restrictive off-boarding agreement that contains nondisclosure and non-disparagement provisions former OpenAI employees are subject to. It forbids them, for the rest of their lives, from criticizing their former employer. Even acknowledging that the NDA exists is a violation of it.


TechCrunch says:

requests for . . . compute were often denied, blocking the [Superalignment] team from doing their work [according to someone on the team].