Sam Altman reinstated: Early this morning, news broke that Sam Altman had been reinstated as OpenAI’s CEO, ending five days of tech world drama.

It’s looking more and more like the board’s defense they gave for firing him—that he was not “consistently candid” in his communications with them—was no cover for a smoking gun, but rather the culmination of petty drama and tensions between those who want artificial intelligence development to slow down, believing the future of humanity is imperiled by this technology, and those who see its value and want to forge ahead. (Disclosure: My husband works for OpenAI.)

The unique structure of the company—a nonprofit oversees the for-profit subsidiary—made it so the fiduciary duty of the board was to “humanity, not OpenAI investors.” Problems ensued. Board member Helen Toner, an academic at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, had earlier this year published a research paper critical of OpenAI’s safety efforts, but complimentary of those undertaken by Anthropic, the company’s chief rival. “Any amount of criticism from a board member carries a lot of weight,” said Altman to Toner via email, per The New York Times.

Toner also publicly pushed back, via an article in Foreign Affairs, on some of the things Altman said in a testimony to Congress; she lived in Beijing for nine months and has written that, in the artificial intelligence arms race between the U.S. and China, actually China is far behind, so far behind that “regulating AI will not set America back” and “an inflated impression of Chinese prowess should not prevent the United States from taking meaningful and necessary action now.”

Altman, on the other hand, has welcomed regulation but also cautioned that there are geopolitical implications to stifling American AI development as global competitors forge ahead.

The board should destroy the company? Cut ahead to this past week, when Toner—a 31-year-old former Model U.N. kid from Australia, who has been widely criticized as underqualified for a board position—allegedly said that the board’s duty is to humanity, so destroying the company would be consistent with that. Now, Toner is out, and some loud voices on Twitter are chalking it all up to misogyny, as if everything has a culture war component at all times.

Now, former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear is out as CEO of OpenAI. Economist Larry Summers and former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor are joining the board, alongside existing board member/Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo. In essence, this new political compass is correct, and though the drama might dissipate, the broader tensions are not going away anytime soon.

Hostage deal: Israel and Hamas just agreed to a four-day pause in fighting during which 50 Hamas hostages will be returned to Israel, and 150 Palestinian prisoners currently held by Israel will be returned to Gaza. The pause will allow more humanitarian aid to reach Gazans in need, and the Israeli government has also declared that “the release of every 10 additional hostages will result in an additional day in the pause.”

Hostages will not be released until tomorrow at the earliest. “Our hands will remain on the trigger,” said Hamas, and “our victorious brigades will remain on the lookout to defend our people and defeat the occupation and its aggression.” All statements from Hamas and Israel relating to the deal can be found here, via Al Jazeera.

Aid sites hit: “The Biden administration has been providing Israel with the location of humanitarian groups in Gaza for weeks to prevent strikes against their facilities,” reports Politico. But this has not dissuaded the Israeli military from hitting those areas. “Israel’s continued bombardment of these humanitarian facilities raises more questions about whether Washington has the political sway many in the administration want with Israel.”

Aid workers have said that the Israeli military’s commitment to protecting humanitarian groups from strikes has been stronger in the past, but that they are showing less concern for those sites now. “We don’t see eye-to-eye on what they consider collateral damage or military necessity and what we consider a very high civilian toll, whether it’s in life or in infrastructure, including ours,” a United Nations official told Politico.


Scenes from New York

Eric Adams: secret libertarian?


QUICK HITS

  • Happy Thanksgiving! I am grateful for each and every one of you, dear Roundup readers. Tell me in the comments if you’re making any good pies this year. I did apple (homemade crust, of course) and goat milk/honey with a pecan crust that takes the place of a traditional pecan.
  • “AAA, the automobile owners’ group that also tracks air travel, expects that 4.7 million people will fly between Wednesday and Sunday. That is an increase of 6.6 percent compared with last year, and the highest number of Thanksgiving air travelers in nearly two decades,” reports The New York Times. It’s beautiful that COVID didn’t eliminate people’s desire to endure the indignities of travel, congregate in large groups, and stuff their faces. For a minute there, it looked like the shut-ins would win.
  • Bloomberg‘s Joe Weisenthal on prediction markets: “Getting a sense in real time how people want to price various near-term outcomes is useful in understanding an unfolding story.”
  • Is former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo trying to replace Eric Adams as mayor? Lord help us.
  • The public service announcements have gone too far: 
  • Binance’s CEO Changpeng Zhao, most frequently referred to as CZ, pleaded guilty to money laundering violations. He will pay a $50 million fine, and the crypto giant will pay a $4.3 billion fine, but will be allowed to continue to operate.
  • This:

 





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