In a notable and seemingly understated move, OpenAI, the renowned artificial intelligence research organization, has quietly revamped its core values. The company’s original set of values, including attributes like “audacious,” “thoughtful,” “unpretentious,” “impact-driven,” “collaborative,” and “growth-oriented,” had been prominently featured on its website. However, a snapshot from the Internet Archive on September 25 reveals that these values have now been replaced by a new set: “AGI focus,” “intense and scrappy,” “scale,” “make something people love,” and “team spirit.” This shift in core values raises questions about OpenAI’s evolving mission and priorities.
An evolution in core values
OpenAI’s original core values have been in place since at least January 2022, as documented by the Internet Archive. While some aspects of the previous values appear to have been incorporated into the new ones, others have no clear substitute. The shift from being “audacious” and “thoughtful” to emphasizing “AGI focus” and “intense and scrappy” suggests a greater emphasis on the organization’s primary goal of developing artificial general intelligence (AGI).
“AGI Focus” Takes Center Stage
One of the most significant changes in OpenAI’s core values is the prominent inclusion of “AGI focus.” AGI, or artificial general intelligence, represents the pinnacle of AI development—a system that can understand, learn, and perform any intellectual task as competently as a human being. This core value underscores OpenAI’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of AI research and development.
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, described AGI as “the equivalent of a median human that you could hire as a co-worker,” highlighting the organization’s ambition to create AI systems that emulate human-level intelligence. However, the feasibility and timeline for achieving AGI remain subjects of debate among AI experts, with estimates ranging from a few years to several decades.
Unpacking the new core values
The shift in core values is not merely cosmetic; it reflects a deeper reevaluation of OpenAI’s mission and ethos:
Intense and scrappy
The new core value of “intense and scrappy” appears to encompass elements of the previous values of being “audacious” and “thoughtful.” OpenAI now emphasizes high intensity and a resourceful, determined approach to its work, aligning with the organization’s pursuit of AGI.
“Scale” suggests that OpenAI aims to significantly expand its influence and impact. This core value likely pertains to the organization’s efforts to reach a broader audience and address global challenges through AI technologies.
Make something people love
This value focuses on creating AI systems and products that resonate with users, reflecting a commitment to delivering tangible benefits to society and consumers.
Including “team spirit” is a nod to the importance of collaboration and fostering a cohesive work environment within OpenAI. It carries forward the previous value of being “collaborative.”
Notably absent from the new core values is a direct replacement for being “thoughtful.” While OpenAI’s career page once stated, “We thoroughly consider the consequences of our work and welcome diversity of thought,” this aspect no longer features as a core value. However, the company still emphasizes the importance of diversity and inclusion in its workforce.
A changing landscape
OpenAI’s evolution in core values is pivotal for the organization. Founded in 2015 by Sam Altman and tech billionaire Elon Musk, OpenAI has seen substantial growth and investment, with Microsoft injecting an additional $10 billion into the company in January. According to reports, OpenAI is on track to achieve $1 billion in sales by August 2024.
Elon Musk, one of OpenAI’s original co-founders, parted ways with the organization in 2018, citing potential conflicts of interest with his other ventures. This shift in leadership dynamics has contributed to OpenAI’s evolving strategic direction.
OpenAI’s subtle but significant change in core values reflects its ongoing transformation and recommitment to advancing the field of artificial intelligence, particularly in pursuing AGI. While the shift may leave some questions unanswered and observers speculating about the organization’s precise motivations, it underscores OpenAI’s determination to remain at the forefront of AI research and development, focusing on intense and scrappy innovation, scaling impact, and fostering a strong team spirit. As the world eagerly anticipates breakthroughs in AGI and AI technologies, OpenAI’s evolving mission will undoubtedly continue to shape the future of AI.