Silicon Valley Tech News Roundup – November 19th

Sam Altman fired from OpenAI – 11/18

On Friday, OpenAI’s Board of Directors fired Sam Altman from his position as the CEO.

According to the statement, the company conducted: “a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.” Further, the statement said: “The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.” Mira Murati (OpenAI’s Chief Technology Officer) will replace Altman in the interim. OpenAI debuted in 2015 as a non-profit but restructured in 2019 with Microsoft as a major investor.

The Board also dismissed Greg Brockman (Co-Founder of OpenAI), who then resigned from the company.

Sam Altman confirmed the news on X: “It was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit. Most of all I loved working with such talented people.” Further, he added he will talk about what is next later.

According to a report by the Verge on Saturday, sources close to Altman shared the Board of Directors agreed to resign and potentially reinstate him to his position.

Advertisers pull ads from X following anti-Semitic backlash – 11/18

A growing number of advertisers started pulling their ads from X following growing antisemitic content on the platform. Elon Musk endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory publicly.

Media Matters for America (a watchdog group) published a report that revealed content by companies like IBM, Oracle, and Apple (among others) appeared next to pro-Nazi and similar hateful content.

On Thursday, IBM confirmed it suspended the company’s ads on the platform to investigate the report the content for its Watson division appeared next to pro-Nazi content. According to media reports, Apple, Lionsgate, Disney, Paramount, Discovery, and the European Commission also suspended their ads.

According to the spokesperson for X, the company does not place brand content next to hateful speech on purpose.

Meanwhile, Musk threatened Media Matters for America with a lawsuit. He stated on X that the report by the media watchdog “misrepresented the real user experience of X” and had a purpose to “undermine freedom of speech and mislead advertisers.”

On Friday, Linda Yaccarino (the CEO of X) said the platform has been “extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination. There’s absolutely no place for it anywhere in the world.” Likewise, the company claims it has stricter guidelines and safety controls regarding hate speech and extremism than other social media platforms. They also claim both reduced. Experts, meanwhile, claim hate speech increased on the platform ever since Musk took over.

Meta reassigns its Responsible AI team – 11/18

A spokesperson for Meta confirmed the company disbanded and reassigned its Responsible AI team. The division worked on regulating the safety of the company’s AI ventures as they were developed and deployed.

According to the Meta spokesperson, even though the employees have been reassigned, they will support “responsible AI development and use… We continue to prioritize and invest in safe and responsible AI development.”

The members of the Responsible AI team now work for the AI Infrastructure team and Generative AI division, respectively. The Generative AI division works on products that generate language and images that mimic human-made versions.

The safety of artificial intelligence has become a hot topic among regulators as well as developers. In July, several tech companies like Microsoft, Google, and OpenAI created an industry group to set and monitor AI standards as the technology develops.

SpaceX’s test flight ends in another explosion – 11/18

On Saturday, SpaceX’s second test flight ended in an explosion of its Starship and Super Heavy Rocket. The spacecraft took off on Saturday morning at Boca Chica, Texas.

Seconds after the separation stage was completed, the rocket’s first stage exploded. Starship managed to continue for a few more minutes before exploding. Starship reached 24 miles above the Earth’s surface during the first test flight. This time, it achieved an altitude of 92 miles and reached space.

Kate Tice (quality engineering manager at SpaceX) labeled the test flight a success by saying the company had “an incredibly successful day, even though we did have a RUD – or rapid unscheduled disassembly – of both the Super Heavy booster and the ship. We got so much data, and that will all help to improve for our next flight.”


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