Hashtag Trending Nov.21-ChatGPT thought it was dumb to fire Altman; Microsoft prevails; Over half of tech industry thinks AI is overrated

Even ChatGPT knew that it was a dumb idea to fire Sam Altman.  Over 700 OpenAI employees call for board resignation. Microsoft wins big by hiring Altman. And maybe even a couple of other stories. 

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I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US.

Early reports of the firing of Sam Altman indicated that it was the chief scientist, Ilya Suskever who led the coup that resulted in the firing of Sam Altman.  Suskever today is backtracking on his involvement.  In a tweet or xcrement or whatever they are called, he stated that “I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company,” Sutskever wrote in a message on X, formerly Twitter.

Let me get this straight.  Is he saying that he didn’t think that firing Altman would “harm OpenAI.” 

Everybody would know that. In fact, even ChatGPT knows that this was a dumb idea. How do we know that? We asked it. 

ChatGPT gave us 8 great reasons why this would be a dumb idea.  We’ll post those as an appendix to the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts. 

But let’s leave this with ChatGPT’s final thoughts. In summary, firing Sam Altman would likely bring about significant changes in OpenAI’s strategic direction, project continuity, public perception, and internal dynamics.

To which we can only say, “Doh.”

And the impact is great.

Today, more than 700 employees at OpenAI have signed an open letter demanding the resignation of the company’s board members following the controversial firing of  CEO Sam Altman. The letter highlights deep-seated unrest within the organization and a potential exodus to a new Microsoft research unit led by Altman.

Highlighting the intensity of the situation, the employees stated in the letter, “We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgment, and care for our mission and employees.” They are advocating for significant changes in the leadership structure, including the appointment of two new lead independent directors, Bret Taylor and Will Hurd, and reinstating both Altman and former president Greg Brockman.

The letter has gained significant traction within the company, indicating widespread dissatisfaction and concern over the current leadership’s direction. Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist and a key figure in the board’s decision to remove Altman, is the twelfth signature on that letter.

Where do this go from here? Especially since the board has rejected returning Altman and brought in a new CEO.  And Altman, with a number of other key players, has joined Microsoft. 

Sources include: Axios 

No question who the big winner was today. After taking a big dive when Altman was fired, Microsoft’s stock price surged to a record high following the announcement that the former CEO of OpenAI, and a number of his key team have joined Microsoft. 

Shares of Microsoft climbed as much as 2 per cent on the news, adding an impressive $54 billion to the company’s market value at its daily peak. 

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, expressed enthusiasm about the new collaboration, underscoring the company’s commitment to providing the necessary resources for their successful integration and contribution to Microsoft’s AI endeavors.

After firing Altman on Friday, the board attempted to reverse their decision over the weekend, but the discussions fell apart, leading to Altman’s eventual move to Microsoft. 

Analysts believe that this move will reassure Microsoft’s shareholders, particularly those concerned about Altman potentially starting a new venture that could rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a language model integrated into Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

Sources include: Business Insider

A secretive White House surveillance program, Data Analytical Services (DAS), is providing law enforcement agencies access to trillions of U.S. phone records, including those of citizens not suspected of any crime, according to a recent article in WIRED.

A covert surveillance initiative known as Data Analytical Services (DAS), previously termed Hemisphere, has been granting federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies access to an extensive database of phone records within the United States. This revelation comes from a letter by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden to the Department of Justice (DOJ), obtained by WIRED, challenging the program’s legality.

The program’s legality has been questioned by Senator Wyden, who expressed serious concerns in his letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. Despite being labeled “sensitive but unclassified,” details of the DAS program remain confidential, with federal officials restricted from public disclosure.

The program, under the guise of targeting drug trafficking, has been used for various law enforcement purposes, as evidenced by leaked files from various agencies.

The DAS program has a complex history, being renamed and restructured over time. It was initially exposed by The New York Times in 2013 as the Hemisphere Project. Funding for the program has seen fluctuations, with suspensions and resumptions under different administrations. While the Obama administration suspended funding in 2013, it was reinstated under the Trump administration and continued under Biden.

DAS’s scope is vast but does not involve wiretapping; it primarily includes metadata like call dates, times, and participant information. However, its use for location tracking has raised constitutional concerns. Senator Wyden’s recent introduction of the Government Surveillance Reform Act seeks to address loopholes that currently allow the DAS program to operate outside strict legal confines.

Sources include: Wired 

Apple has announced its intention to support the Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard on iPhones and other iOS devices starting from 2024. This move is seen as a step towards bridging the communication gap between different operating systems.

RCS is a modern messaging standard designed to facilitate smoother and more feature-rich communication across various phone operating systems. Apple’s adoption of RCS will enhance the texting experience between iPhone users and those using rival platforms, primarily Android, which has been advocating for Apple to embrace RCS through its “get the message” campaign.

Despite this integration, Apple plans to retain the distinct green bubbles for texts received from Android devices, a symbolic representation that has long differentiated iMessages (in blue) from other text messages. 

The push towards RCS may have been influenced by recent regulatory changes in the European Union. The EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) mandates major digital service providers to ensure their core services, like messaging platforms, are interoperable with rival systems. This has put pressure on Apple, with the European Commission considering whether iMessage should be classified as a core service requiring interoperability.

Interestingly, the announcement coincides with a move by phone manufacturer Nothing, which recently launched a method for its smartphone users to send iMessages to iPhone users via their app, Nothing Chats. The app aims to provide a bridge between iPhone and Android devices. 

Legislation? Competition? Who knows. But somebody got the message.

Sources include: BBC

And under the heading of keeping it all in perspective:

Over half of tech industry professionals consider AI to be overrated, even as they recognize its value and impact in the workplace, according to a recent State of AI survey by Retool.

The survey reveals a nuanced perspective on artificial intelligence (AI) within the tech industry. Despite the rapid growth and significant investments in the AI sector, highlighted by tools like ChatGPT gaining widespread popularity, over 51.6 per cent of tech industry workers view AI as overrated. This sentiment contrasts with the 23 per cent who believe AI is rated fairly and the 25 per cent who see it as underrated.

The survey, which included over 1,500 participants ranging from software engineers to business leaders and designers, delves into the perceptions of AI among those who are at the forefront of its development and implementation. A notable division in opinion is evident between upper management and non-executive employees. Management, viewing AI as a cost-cutting tool potentially replacing workers, generally have a more favourable view of AI, whereas those who directly engage with AI in their roles are more inclined to see it as overrated.

This skepticism among tech workers largely stems from concerns over the accuracy of AI responses, data security issues, instances of AI “hallucinations,” and the costs associated with developing AI applications. Despite these concerns, only 14.4 per cent of respondents felt their employers were overinvesting in AI technology, suggesting a recognition of AI’s importance and potential in reshaping the workplace, even if they don’t regard it as revolutionary at present.

Furthermore, the survey found that a significant 77.1 per cent of participants reported that their companies are making efforts to integrate AI into their operations. The majority of respondents anticipate that AI will bring about moderate to significant changes in their jobs and industry within the next five years.

David Hsu, CEO and founder of Retool, emphasized the importance of understanding practical AI use cases, especially in business contexts. He noted, “While AI isn’t replacing most technical jobs, it’s reshaping them – and people are latching onto technologies that help them accelerate and strengthen their work.”

Sources include: Techspot

And that’s the top tech news for today.

Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show we call “the Weekend Edition.”

You can get us anywhere you get audio podcasts and there is a copy of the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts 

For those interested in cybersecurity you can also check out our hit cybersecurity podcast featuring Howard Solomon and called CybersecurityToday.  It’s often rated as one of North America’s top 10 tech podcasts. 

I’m your host Jim Love.  Have a Terrific Tuesday!

Addendum for the show notes:

Here’s what ChatGPT said in response to my question, “What would be the impact of firing Sam Altman?”

The impact on OpenAI of firing Sam Altman, its CEO, could be multifaceted and significant, encompassing various aspects such as leadership, strategic direction, public perception, and potential disruptions to ongoing projects and collaborations.

  1. Leadership and Vision: Sam Altman has been a key figure in shaping the vision and strategic direction of OpenAI. His departure could lead to a shift in the company’s priorities and objectives. The new leadership would likely bring its own perspective on AI development, which could alter OpenAI’s course.
  2. Innovation and Project Continuity: Altman has been instrumental in spearheading innovative projects like GPT-3 and DALL-E. His absence might affect the continuity and future direction of such projects. It could also impact the morale and motivation of the teams working on these initiatives.
  3. Investor Relations and Funding: Altman has established relationships with investors and partners. His departure might lead to a reassessment of these relationships, potentially affecting future funding and collaborations.
  4. Public Perception and Trust: As a public figure, Altman’s leadership has been a part of OpenAI’s identity. His departure could influence public perception and trust in the organization, especially among those who associate OpenAI’s success and ethos closely with Altman’s leadership.
  5. Regulatory and Ethical Stance: Altman has been a vocal advocate for responsible AI development, balancing innovation with ethical considerations. A change in leadership could bring different approaches to how OpenAI navigates the complex regulatory and ethical landscape of AI.
  6. Talent Retention and Recruitment: Leadership changes often affect an organization’s culture and can influence decisions of current employees and potential recruits. This could impact OpenAI’s ability to retain and attract top talent in a highly competitive field.
  7. Market Position and Competition: OpenAI’s standing in the AI industry might be impacted. Competitors might perceive the leadership change as an opportunity to strengthen their market position, while OpenAI could face a period of internal restructuring.
  8. Internal Dynamics and Decision-Making: Altman’s leadership style and decision-making processes have shaped OpenAI’s internal culture. A new CEO might introduce different management practices and decision-making frameworks, affecting the organization’s efficiency and culture.

In summary, firing Sam Altman would likely bring about significant changes in OpenAI’s strategic direction, project continuity, public perception, and internal dynamics. The extent and nature of these impacts would depend on the circumstances of his departure and the qualities of his successor.

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