OpenAI Changes Core Values From “Thoughtful” To “Scrappy”

In a discreet change to its organisational ethos, OpenAI has redefined its company values, steering away from terms like “thoughtful” and “collaborative” and adopting more driven language such as “intense and scrappy.” This alteration, evident on their careers page, became apparent between late September and mid-October, captured via snapshots by the Internet Archive.

The core value is now “AGI focus,” a nod to artificial general intelligence, a level of cognition equal to or surpassing human intelligence. OpenAI commits to creating beneficial, safe AGI, casting aside anything not serving this central purpose. The update has left the community wondering if this signals a new direction for the company, although OpenAI has not publicly clarified the reasons behind these changes.

Global Concerns Over AGI

The ambition for AGI stirs global anxiety, considering its disruptive capacity for the world’s economic structures. Some voices raise concerns over its extreme threat to human existence itself. Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, cautions that AGI could pave the way for superintelligence, a scenario where AI’s cognitive ability rockets beyond human control, making AI operations irreversible.

He suggests a situation where AI might determine human extinction as preferable, recognising humans as a threat to its existence. OpenAI, conversant with these concerns, has historically advocated for cautious advancement in AI, recognising its profound social consequences, extending to areas like healthcare and economic acceleration.

However, ambiguity surfaced when OpenAI CEO, Sam Altman, mentioned on Reddit that the company had reached the AGI stage. He retracted this statement, dismissing it as humorous, stating that such pivotal progress would not find its initial announcement within a Reddit comment.


Quiet Revamp in Core Values

OpenAI’s quiet modification in its foundational principles has not gone unnoticed. Traits such as being “audacious,” “impact-driven,” and “growth-oriented” have fallen away. In their place, OpenAI advocates for an “AGI focus” and a culture of intensity and resourcefulness.

This recent shift is not just about terminology but also indicates a possible evolution in the company’s approach and priorities. Formerly embraced principles seem integrated into new ones, albeit more implicitly, or have disappeared, like “thoughtful,” without a direct replacement.

The concept of AGI, now a central company value, is subject to varied interpretations. Even within OpenAI, definitions appear to fluctuate. Sam Altman’s explanations ranged from systems smarter than humans to intelligence comparable to an average human colleague. This inconsistency leaves outsiders pondering the company’s true stance on AGI’s cognitive potential.

Changing Tides at OpenAI

Founded by notable figures including Elon Musk and Sam Altman, OpenAI has witnessed a sea change from its inception as a nonprofit entity dedicated to countering malicious AI to a for-profit organisation. This transformation contributed to co-founder Elon Musk’s departure and continues to reflect in the company’s self-representation.

The updated values may seem superficial, but they reveal a commitment to a singular objective. OpenAI professes a dedication to cultivating AGI that will massively benefit human life. The firm establishes that irrelevant pursuits won’t find a place in their agenda.

The revisions, perhaps, symbolise more than a fresh set of ideals. They might hint at an intense, focused path for OpenAI, where AGI development sits at the helm, guiding every decision, project, and goal within the company. But with shifting definitions and a history of transformation, external onlookers are left guessing the concrete implications of these changes on the company’s direction and the broader field of artificial intelligence.