HomeWinBuzzer NewsOpenAI Co-Founder Ilya Sutskever Departs, Jakub Pachocki Steps In

OpenAI Co-Founder Ilya Sutskever Departs, Jakub Pachocki Steps In

OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever leaves. He is replaced by Jakub Pachocki. Sutskever's departure follows internal conflicts with CEO Sam Altman.

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Ilya Sutskever, the chief scientist for and one of its co-founders, has left the company. Sutskever announced the news on X and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman later confirmed the announcement, expressing his sadness and gratitude for Sutskever's contributions.

This is very sad to me; Ilya is easily one of the greatest minds of our generation, a guiding light of our field, and a dear friend,” Altman said. “OpenAI would not be what it is without him. Although he has something personally meaningful he is going to work on, I am forever grateful for what he did here and committed to finishing the mission we started together.

Jakub Pachocki Steps In

Replacing Sutskever is Jakub Pachocki, OpenAI's director of research. Pachocki joined OpenAI in 2017 as a research lead on the Dota team, which developed an AI system capable of defeating human players at Valve's Dota 2 strategy game. He later became research lead at OpenAI's reasoning and science of deep learning organizations before being promoted to principal of research.

It remains unclear if Pachocki will also take over as head of OpenAI's Superalignment team, previously overseen by Sutskever and Jan Leike. According to The New York Times, Leike has also resigned from OpenAI.

The Role of the Superalignment Team

OpenAI formed the Superalignment team in July to develop methods for steering, regulating, and governing “superintelligent” AI systems—hypothetical systems with intelligence far exceeding that of humans. The Times reports that John Schulman, another OpenAI co-founder, will now oversee the team.

TechCrunch reports that the Superalignment team will be integrated more deeply across OpenAI's research to better achieve its objectives. This could mean significant changes to the team's structure in the future.

Sutskever's Legacy and Departure

Greg Brockman, OpenAI's president, wrote on X that Sutskever “played a key role in helping build the foundations of what OpenAI has become today.” Sutskever's departure follows the unveiling of OpenAI's latest model, GPT-4o, and major upgrades to the company's AI-powered chatbot, . His exit marks the end of a tumultuous period that began last November.

A week before Thanksgiving, Sutskever and OpenAI CTO Mira Murati approached members of OpenAI's previous board of directors with concerns about Altman's behavior, reportedly due to disagreements over OpenAI's direction. The old board, which included Sutskever, moved to abruptly fire Altman without notifying most of OpenAI's workforce. The board cited Altman's lack of consistent candor in his communications.

The decision angered and other investors, jeopardized the company's stock sale, and led to the majority of OpenAI employees—including Sutskever—threatening to quit unless Altman was reinstated. Altman was eventually reinstated, and much of the old board resigned. Sutskever never returned to work after that, according to The Times; Pachocki has effectively served as chief scientist since November.

Sutskever's Future Plans

Sutskever, who earned his doctorate in computer science at the University of Toronto under AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton, joined OpenAI in 2015 after leaving Google Brain. He has made significant contributions to the field of AI, including work on ImageNet and DeepMind's AlphaGo.

While Sutskever has not disclosed his next steps, he stated on X that he believes OpenAI will build artificial general intelligence that is both safe and beneficial. “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,” Sutskever added. “It was an honor and a privilege to have worked together [at OpenAI], and I will miss everyone dearly.

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.