How to talk about the OpenAI drama at Thanksgiving dinner

14 Min Read

You’ve simply landed in Dayton, Ohio after a protracted, in a single day journey from SFO. When you had been ready in Denver on a layover, you checked your telephone to see the information: After virtually every week of confusion and uncertainty, Sam Altman has been reinstated as CEO of OpenAI.

The excellent news is that the Slack workspace of the small tech startup you’re employed at will cease getting flooded with memes, solely a few of that are actually good. Your colleagues could know the right way to code, however they don’t at all times have a watch for humor. As content material as you might be, dwelling your Silicon Valley desires, it’s at all times good to go house and get again to fundamentals.

Mother: “Oh, my one and solely little one! I’m so glad you made it house! San Francisco is just too far!”

You hug your mother and inform her how good it feels to be again. Your dad does that awkward bro hug factor the place you type of clasp arms after which pat one another on the again, as a result of despite the fact that it’s completely regular to say that you just love your father — the person who actually raised you and altered your diapers as a child and coached your Little League workforce till you realized laptop science was extra attention-grabbing to you than baseball — you will have been socialized as a person, and due to this fact, you might be incapable of telling your father you’re keen on him.

Dad: “Busy week, eh? I noticed that Sam Altman man is again… what even occurred there?”

There it’s. You actually don’t wish to discuss it — startup life is tough and demanding, and as a lot as you’re keen on what you do, you actually simply wish to spend just a few days away from all of it.

“Oh, yeah, I’ll let you know later, simply let me put away my baggage!” you say.

You stroll upstairs to your childhood bed room. There’s a “Large Bang Idea” poster, which makes you are feeling extremely embarrassed, however you had been in center college while you purchased it.

You head again downstairs and begin chopping some greens to assist out your dad, whose arms are coated in turkey innards. The doorbell rings, and out of the blue, the entire household rolls in.

Uncle Steve: “Hey! Very long time no see! Too good for us now that you just’re out working at Fb?”

You do the bro hug factor once more, then make clear that you just don’t work for Fb, and truly the corporate is named Meta now anyway, however you’re really actually excited concerning the B2B SaaS firm you’re working for, and —

Uncle Steve: “Oh yeah, that Elon Musk, he’s actually one thing isn’t he? Altering the identify of Fb to Meta?”

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You right him that, really, Mark Zuckerberg is the CEO of Meta, however sure, Elon Musk did purchase Twitter and alter its identify to X, and it’s been actually loopy. Your school roommate, Pablo, obtained laid off final yr and he was actually bummed, and he did discover his footing ultimately, however at one level you even tried to get him a job at your B2B SaaS firm, which is engaged on this actually superb —

Uncle Steve: “Proper! That’s the Tesla man! However that AI stuff, huh? What occurred there?”

Right here it comes. The OpenAI dialog.

Mercifully, your aunt interjects.

Aunt Carol: “Oh, Steve, it’s too early to speak store! How’s life on the market? Do you will have a girlfriend?”

One way or the other, your Aunt Carol discovered the one subject you wish to discuss lower than OpenAI. Startup life is so busy, and also you’re fairly certain your Tinder Elo score is low because you barely open the app, and possibly that’s why you’re not getting many matches? So, you pivot.

“Yeah, the OpenAI stuff has been actually loopy. They simply randomly ousted the CEO Sam Altman out of nowhere, and nobody knew why, after which the president additionally stepped down. Traders had been livid, as a result of out of the blue this firm that was alleged to make them loopy wealthy was in turmoil, and nobody knew how lengthy this entire ordeal would final. Microsoft has an enormous stake in OpenAI, so that they supplied Sam and Greg jobs, however then virtually everybody who works at OpenAI stated that they’d give up if Sam wasn’t reinstated, so it’s simply been a whirlwind… Oh, hey, isn’t the sport on?”

You stroll your aunt and uncle into the lounge and activate the TV. You’re not a lot of a soccer head, however you realize sufficient to get by. Once you first graduated school and labored in consulting, you used to review soccer scores to have one thing to speak about at networking occasions, and certain sufficient, that’s what landed you your present job at this actually fascinating B2B SaaS startup which really —

Uncle Steve: “Go Buckeyes!”

Your consideration flicks again to soccer. As you realized in your summer season session at Wharton, one of the best ways to direct a dialog is to ask folks questions concerning the issues they like.

“I noticed one thing about some buyout at Texas A&M, what occurred there?”

Uncle Steve: “So, throughout half time, Texas A&M will get introduced with this enormous $165 million verify from a donor, and the following day, guess what? They hearth their coach, Jimbo Fisher, and provides him $76 million to purchase out his contract! Feels like one thing that’d occur in your world, huh? By the way in which, I nonetheless don’t perceive the entire OpenAI factor. They make that Chat GTX, proper?”

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Oh no. Like many belongings you realized in that Wharton summer season program, your information has backfired.

Your cousin Jennifer peels her eyes away from her telephone and speaks for the primary time.

Cousin Jennifer: “No, dad, it’s ChatGPT, and Kayla used it to write down her school essays and she or he nonetheless obtained in.”

You excuse your self to proceed serving to your mother and father put together Thanksgiving dinner. As you peel potatoes — being cautious to maneuver the peeler away from you, somewhat than towards you — the doorbell rings once more. It’s your Aunt Pat, who works at a medical billing firm in Cleveland.

As you greet her and stroll her to the household room, the place the sport is on, she tries to make small speak.

Aunt Pat: “Everybody at work is speaking about AI! We use that Salesforce Einstein on a regular basis. So, did OpenAI get a brand new CEO but?” 

“Oh, um, Sam Altman is again now, however earlier than that, they appointed Emmett Shear, who based Twitch. That’s a livestream platform that Amazon owns, a lot of folks use it to stream video video games and stuff. Sure, folks like to look at different folks play video video games.”

Cousin Jennifer: “Yeah, my girlfriend is a VTuber.” 

You hope desperately that your aunts and uncles will take the apparent bait and ask Jennifer what the hell a VTuber is. That’d purchase you some strong minutes of peace. And VTubers are approach cooler than AI executives. However nobody follows up on that. You’re about to ask if Jennifer’s girlfriend has a mocap setup, when —

Uncle Steve: “Wait, so does anybody actually know what that Sam man did flawed?”

“We nonetheless don’t know, however the COO Brad Lightcap said that many of the administration workforce had no concept, and that this undoubtedly wasn’t any type of violation of safety or monetary requirements. It’s attainable that all of it got here all the way down to ideology. Some folks assume that Sam is just too aggressive about creating smarter AI as quickly as attainable, and in idea, OpenAI is meant to be constructing AI responsibly, and possibly he was going too quick to be accountable? However then there’s this entire different faction that thinks we are able to’t decelerate the inevitable, so everybody’s been preventing on-line about it. The official motive that the board gave was that he wasn’t being clear with them, however that might actually imply something! Personally, I’m simply glad they sorted all the things out earlier than Thanksgiving, so I can actually calm down and cease serious about all the things. Oh, I ought to go verify if mother wants assist with the casserole.”

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They don’t take the trace.

Aunt Pat: “Don’t be foolish, after we walked in, I noticed the casserole was already out of the oven. So, what do you consider all this AI stuff? It definitely makes my job simpler, however I don’t need it to take my job, if you realize what I imply!”

“It’s arduous to say at this level. For now, I believe it’s arduous for generative AI to duplicate human creativity, however it might definitely automate duties that might take people longer to finish, which is smart why it’s so useful for you at work. By the way in which, how is figure?”

Aunt Pat: “Oh, it’s the vacations, I don’t wish to discuss work. So, I hear there’s been numerous layoffs out within the Bay, do you assume your job is secure?”

“Sure, really, I believe what my firm is engaged on may be very groundbreaking, and innovation is the most effective job safety. We’re a B2B SaaS startup and what makes us completely different is that –”

Aunt Pat: “Wait, wasn’t there one thing concerning the board construction that made this entire factor so complicated? What occurred with the OpenAI board once more?”

You scent the unmistakable scent of turkey popping out of the oven. You pull it collectively, understanding that in mere moments, your interrogation will likely be over.

“Uh, OpenAI is type of a tax-exempt charity wrapped round a holding firm that has a majority stake in OpenAI? It’s type of complicated. But it surely’s type of attempting to be a charity and a for-profit tech large on the identical time, however the nonprofit arm had management of the for-profit arm, which made it attainable to only randomly hearth the CEO. That is actually completely different from how corporations like Meta function, since Mark Zuckerberg owns a lot of the corporate that it’s unattainable for the board to fireside him.”

Dad: “Dinner’s nearly prepared! Begin making your technique to the desk!” 

Oh boy, supper time! You are taking your time finishing up every dish to the desk, minimizing the time that you just’re alone together with your family members, who merely received’t cease asking you about OpenAI. As everybody gobbles down their plates, dialog slows, and eventually, you’ll be able to revel within the peace of coming house.

Uncle Steve retains making “aaah” noises each time he sips his wine. You don’t assume there’s anyway he can annoy you any extra tonight, however hey, that’s household, proper? Out of the blue, he raises his eyebrows as if he’s simply remembered one thing.

“So,” your uncle asks. “What’s the take care of that CZ fella?”

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