OpenAI Reconsiders Controversial Decision Regarding Non-Disparagement Agreements

OpenAI Reconsiders Controversial Decision Regarding Non-Disparagement Agreements

OpenAI recently made significant adjustments to their policy regarding non-disparagement agreements for former employees. This decision comes after facing backlash for requiring former employees to choose between maintaining their vested equity or signing a non-disparagement agreement that had no expiration date.

Policy Reversal

The internal memo, which was obtained by CNBC, informed former employees that they no longer needed to sign the non-disparagement agreement to keep their vested equity in the company. OpenAI clarified that they would not cancel any vested units, regardless of whether the employee signed the agreement or not. Additionally, OpenAI announced that they would no longer enforce any other non-disparagement or non-solicitation clauses that employees may have signed previously.

According to an OpenAI spokesperson, the company is in the process of updating its departure process. They emphasized that OpenAI has always been committed to not revoking vested equity, even if employees did not sign the necessary departure documents. The spokesperson expressed regret over the delay in changing the non-disparagement language, stating that it does not align with the company’s values.

The decision to revise the non-disparagement policy comes amidst a series of controversies surrounding OpenAI. Just last week, OpenAI faced criticism for one of the audio voices released for ChatGPT, named “Sky,” which bore a resemblance to the voice of actress Scarlett Johansson in the movie “Her.” Scarlett Johansson raised concerns about the unauthorized use of her voice.

Disbandment of AI Risk Team

In another surprising move, OpenAI disbanded its team dedicated to assessing the long-term risks of artificial intelligence, a year after its formation. Team leaders Ilya Sutskever and Jan Leike departed from OpenAI, citing a shift in the company’s focus from safety protocols to product development. This decision raised questions about OpenAI’s commitment to addressing the ethical implications of AI advancement.

Superalignment Team Changes

The Superalignment team, established by OpenAI last year, aimed to drive advancements in controlling AI systems more intelligent than humans. However, with the restructuring of the company, some team members are being reassigned to other departments. The company originally pledged a significant portion of its computing power to support the Superalignment initiative over the course of four years.

OpenAI’s reversal on the non-disparagement policy signifies a step towards fostering a more transparent and employee-friendly work environment. However, the controversies and internal restructuring raise concerns about the company’s priorities and long-term goals in the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence.


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