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OpenAI and ChatGPT: Possible Futures
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OpenAI and ChatGPT: Possible Futures

Whatever the path forward is for OpenAI, the company's reputation has suffered a massive blow, and competitors will certainly rise.

The past few days have turned the entire industry of generative AI upside-down. Before the weekend, OpenAI was sitting comfortably in pole position, riding high from a series of recent announcements designed to keep it there. Most of the world saw ChatGPT as the default starting place for anyone taking their first steps into AI, and the company’s models as setting the standard, with competitors fighting for scraps of mind share.

Now we're in a completely different world. Ever since its board fired CEO Sam Altman in a surprise move Friday afternoon, the situation at OpenAI — and the marketplace for generative AI tools — has been in flux. There have been so many developments since Friday that it's been difficult to keep up (here’s a good summary), but the current state of affairs is a standoff between OpenAI's employees and the board. The staff wants Altman reinstated and the board to resign, or they're all going to follow Altman to Microsoft (far and away OpenAI's biggest investor), which offered him a job as CEO of a new AI subsidiary. Microsoft has said it would indeed hire the defecting staffers.

The situation is changing so quickly that there will probably have been more developments by the time you read this. There are several possible futures now for OpenAI, but they broadly fall into two buckets: 

  1. A future where Altman is reinstated and the arrangement between Microsoft and OpenAI more or less returns to normal (but with Microsoft having more say in how the company is run).

  2. A future where OpenAI is effectively aqui-hired by Microsoft, and the old company dies or fades away.

On this week's Media Copilot podcast, John Biggs and I are joined by Peter Bittner from The Upgrade to discuss these possible scenarios for OpenAI and what they mean to customers… and competitors. Whatever happens, one thing has been made very clear: the field of generative AI will not be the same after this.

You can listen to the podcast on your favorite podcast platform, on YouTube, or right here on this post (scroll up, yo).

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The Media Copilot
The Media Copilot
Weekly converatsions with journalists, media executives, and fascinating people on how AI is changing media, journalism, and the news.