Sam Altman wants ex employees to freely speak against OpenAI: ‘We're sorry’ - Hindustan Times
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Sam Altman wants ex employees to freely speak against OpenAI: ‘We're sorry’

May 24, 2024 09:51 AM IST

Some OpenAI employees were asked to sign nondisparagement agreements tied to their shares in the company, it was earlier reported.

OpenAI has started releasing most of its former employees from nondisparagement agreements which were to their exit contracts and equity. The company said that it would not cancel staffers’ equity if they spoke out about the company. It said as per Bloomberg, “Regardless of whether you executed the agreement, we write to notify you that OpenAI has not canceled, and will not cancel, any vested units." Current staff of the company has also been notified of the change.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during the Microsoft Build conference at the Seattle Convention Center Summit Building in Seattle, Washington.(AFP)
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during the Microsoft Build conference at the Seattle Convention Center Summit Building in Seattle, Washington.(AFP)

This comes after Vox earlier reported that some OpenAI employees were asked to sign nondisparagement agreements tied to their shares in the company which meant that if they spoke against OpenAI, the company could enforce the nondisclosure and nondisparagement portion of the exit contract.

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Read more: Sam Altman says he can't go out to eat in public anymore: 'It's strangely isolating'

Nondisclosures are not unheard of in the tech sector but OpenAI employees were particularly angry about tying nondisparagement agreements to shares, it was reported. The company however said that it would remove the language from its exit paperwork for outgoing staffers and release former employees from nondisparagement agreements “unless the nondisparagement provision was mutual.”

Read more: Scarlett Johansson vs OpenAI: Actor hired lawyers to push back against Sam Altman company. Here's why

Chief Strategy Officer Jason Kwon said in a statement, “We are sorry for the distress this has caused great people who have worked hard for us. We have been working to fix this as quickly as possible. We will work even harder to be better.”

This comes as Sam Altman defended OpenAI saying that AI technology is safe for widespread use after a controversy erupted over an AI voice which closely resembled actress Scarlett Johansson. The latter said in a statement, “When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine that my closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference."

Read more: OpenAI's Sam Altman says AI is ‘safe enough’ after Scarlett Johansson row

Responding to this, Sam Altman said, “My biggest piece of advice is this is a special time and take advantage of it. This is not the time to delay what you're planning to do or wait for the next thing.”

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