Who is Mira Murati, OpenAI’s new interim head?

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, a renowned tech guru, was ousted as the head of the vaunted startup on Friday. The company, famous for its ChatGPT artificial intelligence software, announced that its Chief Technical Officer Mira Murati will take over on an interim basis.

The company said Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board,” in a scathing rebuke of the former executive on Friday.

“We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI,” the statement continued. “At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward.”

According to the company, Murati has played a “critical role” in the growth of OpenAI from a small startup to an artificial intelligence leader.

“She brings a unique skill set, understanding of the company’s values, operations, and business, and already leads the company’s research, product, and safety functions,” the company said.

“Given her long tenure and close engagement with all aspects of the company, including her experience in AI governance and policy, the board believes she is uniquely qualified for the role and anticipates a seamless transition while it conducts a formal search for a permanent CEO.”

Murati joined OpenAI in 2018 as its vice president of AI and partnerships before being promoted to senior vice president of research, product, and partnerships in 2020 and CTO last year, according to her LinkedIn page. She also previously held positions at Tesla and computer peripheral startup Leap Motion.

ChatGPT — which Murati described as her “child” in a Time Magazine interview — has been under scrutiny in recent months as artificial intelligence technology quickly grows and Congress considers regulation for the new industry.

In that February Time interview, when she was named to the publication’s 2023 Time100 Next list, she shared some concerns about the dangers that artificial intelligence can pose.

“This is a unique moment in time where we do have agency in how it shapes society. And it goes both ways: the technology shapes us and we shape it,” she said. “How do you get the model to do the thing that you want it to do, and how you make sure it’s aligned with human intention and ultimately in service of humanity?”

“There are also a ton of questions around societal impact, and there are a lot of ethical and philosophical questions that we need to consider,” she continued. “And it’s important that we bring in different voices, like philosophers, social scientists, artists, and people from the humanities.”

She also encouraged regulators like Congress to get involved in the industry now.

“It’s not too early,” she said. “It’s very important for everyone to start getting involved, given the impact these technologies are going to have.”

Microsoft CEO and Chair Satya Nadella fawned over Murati in a profile for Time. Microsoft is a major investor in OpenAI.

“Through her dedication to democratizing AI, her ability to bring together diverse teams, and the fearlessness with which she tackles technical challenges, Mira has helped to scale the company from a startup to one of the most important AI companies in the world,” Nadella said.

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