OpenAI Dissolves Long-Term AI Risk Team Amid Internal Conflict

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OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, has disbanded its long-term AI risk team, known as the “superalignment team.” This team was formed in July last year to address the potential dangers of creating superintelligent AI capable of overpowering its creators. The disbandment follows the recent departures of key team members, including OpenAI’s co-founder and chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever.

The Rise and Fall of the Superalignment Team

In its initial announcement, OpenAI highlighted the importance of the superalignment team, allocating 20% of its computing power to this group. The team was co-led by Sutskever and Jan Leike, a former DeepMind researcher. Their goal was to develop strategies to ensure that advanced AI systems remain under human control and beneficial to humanity.

However, the team faced significant challenges and internal disagreements over resource allocation and priorities. Leike, who announced his resignation on social media platform X, cited ongoing conflicts with OpenAI leadership regarding the company’s focus and resources for the team’s critical research.

Key Departures and Internal Conflict

The departure of Ilya Sutskever was particularly notable due to his pivotal role in founding OpenAI and his involvement in the controversial firing and subsequent reinstatement of CEO Sam Altman. Sutskever expressed support for OpenAI’s current trajectory but did not provide specific reasons for his departure.

Leike’s resignation was attributed to disagreements over the allocation of resources and priorities within OpenAI. He mentioned that his team struggled to secure the necessary computing power to carry out their research effectively. This conflict eventually led to a breaking point, resulting in his departure.

Impact on OpenAI’s Research and Future Plans

The dissolution of the superalignment team has raised concerns about OpenAI’s commitment to addressing long-term AI risks. The team’s responsibilities will now be integrated into other research efforts within the company. John Schulman, who co-leads the team responsible for fine-tuning AI models, will take on a more prominent role in this area.

OpenAI’s charter emphasizes the importance of developing artificial general intelligence (AGI) safely and for the benefit of humanity. The company has been proactive in releasing experimental AI projects to the public, but the recent internal turmoil suggests potential challenges in balancing innovation with safety.

Broader Implications and Industry Reactions

The departures and internal conflicts at OpenAI reflect broader concerns within the AI community about the development and deployment of advanced AI systems. Other prominent figures in the industry, including Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two Interactive Software, have expressed skepticism about the subscription model for new game releases, arguing that it could negatively impact value creation.

OpenAI’s recent unveiling of the GPT-4o model, a multimodal AI capable of more natural and humanlike interactions, has raised ethical questions about privacy, emotional manipulation, and cybersecurity risks. This new model allows ChatGPT to see and interpret the world in more sophisticated ways, potentially changing users’ relationship with the technology.

Future Directions for AI Safety and Governance

Despite the challenges, OpenAI remains committed to addressing the risks associated with advanced AI. The company has another research group, the Preparedness team, focusing on privacy, emotional manipulation, and cybersecurity issues. This team will continue to play a crucial role in ensuring that AI systems are developed and deployed responsibly.

The recent changes within OpenAI highlight the ongoing tension between innovation and safety in the AI field. As the company continues to push the boundaries of what AI can achieve, it must also navigate the complex ethical and practical considerations that come with such advancements.


OpenAI’s decision to disband the superalignment team marks a significant shift in its approach to addressing long-term AI risks. The internal disagreements and departures of key team members underscore the challenges of balancing rapid innovation with responsible AI development. As OpenAI moves forward, it will need to reaffirm its commitment to safety and transparency, ensuring that its AI systems benefit humanity while mitigating potential risks. The company’s ongoing efforts in AI preparedness and governance will be critical in achieving these goals and maintaining public trust.

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