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Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI Co-founder, Departs Company

Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s esteemed chief scientist and co-founder, bids farewell to the company
May 15, 2024

Ilya Sutskever, the longtime chief scientist and co-founder of OpenAI, is bidding farewell to the company. 

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman made the announcement on Tuesday evening, expressing deep sadness at Sutskever's departure. Altman described Sutskever as one of the greatest minds of their generation, a guiding light in the field, and a dear friend. Altman also acknowledged Sutskever's significant contribution to OpenAI, stating that the company wouldn't be what it is today without him.

Replacing Sutskever is Jakub Pachocki, OpenAI’s director of research. Pachocki, who joined the company in 2017, led research efforts on OpenAI’s Dota team before becoming a principal of research.

It's unclear whether Pachocki will also take over as head of OpenAI’s Superalignment team, a position previously held by Sutskever and Jan Leike. Leike has also resigned from OpenAI.

The Superalignment team, formed in July, was tasked with developing ways to regulate and govern "superintelligent" AI systems. John Schulman, another OpenAI co-founder, will now oversee this team.

Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president, credited Sutskever with playing a key role in building the foundations of what OpenAI is today. Sutskever's departure comes after a tumultuous period that began last November, when he and OpenAI CTO Mira Murati expressed concerns about the company's direction under Altman's leadership.

In response to his departure, Sutskever expressed confidence in OpenAI's ability to develop artificial general intelligence that is safe and beneficial. While Sutskever did not disclose his next project, he promised to share details in due time.

Sutskever, who earned his doctorate in computer science at the University of Toronto under AI luminary Geoffrey Hinton, joined OpenAI in 2015 after leaving Google Brain. He is known for his contributions to ImageNet, one of the first modern computer vision systems, and DeepMind’s AlphaGo.

In a statement, Sutskever expressed gratitude for his time at OpenAI and conveyed his excitement for what lies ahead. 

"I am excited for what comes next — a project that is very personally meaningful to me about which I will share details in due time. It was an honor and a privilege to have worked together [at OpenAI], and I will miss everyone dearly."

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