Tech 5: ChatGPT Maker OpenAI Fires CEO Sam Altman
In a surprising turn of events, Sam Altman has been let go from the company he co-founded, OpenAI.
And insiders close to Apple’s chip development department say that the launch of a house-made chip to replace longtime rival Qualcomm’s technology is likely to face further delays.
Plus, cutting-edge technology can guide robots to solve problems using simulated cognitive skills.
For these stories and more, keep reading to learn about the latest news this week in tech.
1. OpenAI terminates co-founder, CEO, Sam Altman
Sam Altman, co-founder of OpenAI, the company behind the explosive software program ChatGPT, has been terminated from his position as CEO and has left the board of directors. The company made the announcement in a press release issued on its website on Friday afternoon. In his stead, OpenAI’s chief technology officer Mira Murati will act as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found.
The news comes barely two weeks after Altman acted as emcee for OpenAI’s first developer conference, DevDay. In addition to Altman’s dismissal, the company stated that co-founder Greg Brockman will also be stepping down as chairman, but will remain in his role as President.
Reasons for Altman’s dismissal were alluded to in a statement that read, “Mr. Altman’s departure follows 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. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.” Details were not provided as of press time.
2. Menlo Ventures pledges more than US$1 billion to AI startups
Menlo Ventures, one of the first venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, announced on Thursday the closing of US$1.35 billion in new capital to be committed to AI startups. In a statement, reps for Menlo expressed their excitement about the AI industry and the “immense potential” represented by small but promising pioneers in the sector.
Since 2010, Menlo has invested billions of dollars in tech businesses. The firm’s impressive portfolio is already stacked with quite a few AI companies, and it has a track record of funding startups that went on to become major publicly traded enterprises including Uber (NYSE:UBER), Rover (NASDAQ:ROVR) and Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU).
3. New device could be instrumentla in solving world’s water and clean energy crisis
An exciting new invention developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge can turn contaminated or salified water into clean, purified water and hydrogen fuel simultaneously, according to test results published in the scientific journal Nature Water.
The device, which floats and is powered by solar energy, consists of a photocatalyst set on a nanostructured carbon mesh. As it absorbs the sun’s rays, the heat generates water vapor, which is used by the photocatalyst to create hydrogen via electrolysis. Electrolysis is the process of separating hydrogen and oxygen molecules, usually using an electric current.
The device, which has yet to be named, is still in its early stages of development, but it represents a promising solution to the current water crisis faced by roughly half the world’s population and a welcome innovation within the cleantech industry.
4. New system prompts robots to use tools to solve problems
Large language models are being applied to a new system that will enable robots to use tools in creative new ways, further expanding their abilities. The system, called RoboTool, was revealed in a paper published by a team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and in collaboration with Google’s DeepMind research lab.
In an interview with Tech Xplore, co-first author Mengdi Xu explained how tool use has long been a standard measure of intelligence in living things. Robots, on the other hand, are programmed to carry out tasks in a predetermined way, performing the same actions without much deviation.
“In robotics, creative tool use is also a crucial yet very demanding capability because it necessitates the all-around ability to predict the outcome of an action, reason what tools to use, and plan how to use them,” Peide Huang, co-first author of the paper, told Tech Xplore.
Xu and his team built the system with four components — an analyzer, planner, calculator and coder — all using the GPT-4 model created by OpenAI. The four components work together to process natural language, pick out the objective of the command, identify any obstacles, come up with a strategy to complete the task and determine the parameters to accomplish each step of the plan. Parameters may include actions such as moving furniture or manipulating objects, actions that represent the cognitive process of problem-solving.
According to the authors, RoboTool could be used in adaptive situations such as reaching people trapped in collapsed buildings. This would bring new heights for the already exciting potential of robotics.
5. Apple likely to miss spring 2025 launch date for silicon modems
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has faced another obstacle in its attempt to replace Qualcomm’s (NASDAQ:QCOM) intricate, patented modems, a crucial iPhone component, with house-made silicon chips. The latest snag comes just weeks after Apple announced that it would continue using Qualcomm products in its phones, despite plans to sever ties with the tech company. Now, sources for Bloomberg reveal that the company is likely to miss its goal of shipping silicon-chipped phones by the spring of 2025, citing lengthy testing periods amongst a host of complicated issues.
The two tech giants settled a two-year litigation battle over patent infringement in 2019, at which time Apple agreed to pay Qualcomm an undisclosed amount, and Qualcomm would continue to supply Snapdragon 5G modem‑RF chips for six years with the option to extend for two additional years. Apple is currently Qualcomm’s largest customer.
That deal was supposed to expire at the end of 2025, and Apple expected to use Qualcomm parts along with its own silicon modem for the latest iPhone 15 model. Instead, according to a Qualcomm press release, Qualcomm agreed to supply the chips for iPhone releases into 2026.
A scathing report later came out by the Wall Street Journal, criticizing Apple’s chip development department for underestimating the mission’s ambition amidst reports of problems like overheating, slow functionality, and circuit boards that were too large to fit.
Since 2020, Apple has been working on developing technology to replace third-party suppliers with some success. Its newest Macbook features M3 silicon chips instead of Intel processors, and the company has continued to work on a solution to replace Qualcomm’s.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Meagen Seatter, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.