The future of OpenAI, the start-up that quickly became a titan of the artificial intelligence industry after its release of ChatGPT last year, is in doubt. The company’s board fired its high-profile chief executive, Sam Altman, on Friday, and in response, more than 700 of the company’s 770 employees signed a letter today threatening to resign.
In a series of head-spinning developments over the last 24 hours, the company briefly considered and then rejected a proposal to bring Altman back. Shortly after, both Altman and Greg Brockman, a co-founder of OpenAI, were hired by Microsoft to run a new A.I. research lab.
The turmoil highlighted an unresolved debate at OpenAI and in the larger tech community: Is artificial intelligence the most important new technology since web browsers, or is it potentially dangerous to humanity — or both?
The upheaval is probably not over, and it could be a while before the new landscape of the A.I. industry is clear. But my colleague Kevin Roose, who described the personnel changes as “probably the most shocking tech story of the year, and maybe in several years,” said the most obvious loser so far is OpenAI itself.
A federal court moved to weaken the Voting Rights Act
A federal appeals court issued a ruling today that would effectively bar private citizens and civil rights groups from filing lawsuits under a central provision of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark civil rights law. The opinion, which is almost certain to be appealed to the Supreme Court, would drastically weaken the law.
The ruling found that only the federal government could bring a legal challenge under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits election or voting practices that discriminate against Americans based on race.
Israel and Hamas are negotiating the release of hostages
The outlines of a possible deal to release some of the roughly 240 hostages taken in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel are taking shape, a senior U.S. official said.
The talks have coalesced around a several-day pause in fighting, during which 50 women and children being held hostage would be released in exchange for women and teenage Palestinian prisoners. But one Israeli official said that there were still disagreements about the length of the pause and the number of people released, and that any deal would require a government vote.
In Gaza, at least 12 people were killed and dozens were wounded at the Indonesian Hospital, Gazan officials said, blaming Israel. The Israeli military said that its forces had come under fire from within the hospital, but that “no shells were fired toward the hospital.”
Rosalynn Carter transformed the role of first lady
In four years at the White House, Rosalynn Carter, the former first lady who died yesterday at 96, redefined the role of presidential spouse. She expanded and formalized the first lady’s office and was a full collaborator with her husband, most notably by inspiring and assisting with his landmark Camp David meetings that brokered peace between Israel and Egypt.
“Rosalynn’s involvement touched virtually every aspect of her husband’s presidency,” one biographer wrote.
Her style was also a greatly underappreciated asset, our chief fashion critic wrote.
More top news
Prepare for busy, and possibly wet, Thanksgiving travel
Forecasts for this evening show a risk of severe storms in the South, and wide swaths of the East may have showers and thunderstorms over the next two days. As of this afternoon, there does not appear to be a threat of extreme winter weather in the Northeast, and the major metro areas along the East Coast will have mainly rain and wind from Tuesday evening through Wednesday morning.
For those who are driving a long way, we have some tips for coming up with car games that help make road trips more palatable.
In Death Valley, a rare lake draws in visitors
Every year, more than a million tourists visit Death Valley National Park to feel the searing heat and take in the barren landscape. But this fall, a different feature is drawing people: a mirror-smooth body of water.
The lake formed when, on a single day in August, Tropical Storm Hilary dropped more rain on the park than it typically gets in an entire year. It was the first time a lake had formed in Badwater Basin, the lowest place in North America, in nearly 20 years.
Liberty and Bell receive presidential pardons
Two 42-pound turkeys from Minnesota, named Liberty and Bell, became beneficiaries today of perhaps the most hokey presidential tradition: President Biden bestowed the turkeys with pardons.
At the 76th annual White House turkey presentation, Biden, who turned 81 on the same day he spared the birds, wanted to get one thing straight. “I want you to know I wasn’t there for the first one,” he quipped. “I was too young to make it.”
Have a forgiving evening.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Matthew
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