Tuesday December 05, 2023

Mira Murati replaces Sam Altman as OpenAI CEO — but who is she?

Murati previously spent three years at Tesla as senior product manager for Model X, its crossover SUV

By Web Desk
November 18, 2023
OpenAIs interim CEO Mira Murati. — WIRED/File
OpenAI's interim CEO Mira Murati. — WIRED/File

OpenAI in a surprise move on Friday fired CEO Sam Altman and announced that Mira Murati, the company's chief technology officer (CTO), has been named the interim CEO in his place.

According to Bloomberg, Murati expressed her gratitude and humility at being given the opportunity to manage the company in a memo.

But other than being the company's CTO, exactly who is Mira Murati?

The 34-year-old OpenAI executive holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Dartmouth College and has had a remarkable career.

She began her career as an intern at Goldman Sachs, followed by a stint at the French aerospace group, Zodiac Aerospace, according to TechCrunch.

Additionally, Murati spent three years at Tesla as the senior product manager for Model X, the company's crossover SUV, before serving at Leap Motion, a startup that develops hand- and finger-tracking motion sensors for PCs, as the vice president of product and engineering.

In 2018, she joined OpenAI as vice president of applied AI and partnerships and was promoted to CTO in 2022, leading the company's work on the viral AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT, the text-to-image AI DALL-E and the code-generating system Codex, which powers GitHub’s Copilot product.

What kind of CEO will Murati be for OpenAI?

While the company is in search of a new permanent CEO, OpenAI's interim chief, Murati, believes multimodal models, such as GPT-4 with Vision, which can understand image and text context, are the future of the company and a promising path to ultra-capable AI.

Furthermore, Murati seems to be a firm believer in openly testing this kind of AI to identify bugs and maybe uncover new applications.

"One of the reasons that we wanted to pursue DALL-E was to get to a more robust understanding of the world, to have these models understand the world the way that we do," Murati told Fast Company.

“You put the technology in contact with reality; you see how people use it, what the limitations are; you learn from that; and you can feed it back into the technology development.

"The other dimension is that you can actually see how much [the technology is] moving the needle in solving real-world problems or whether it is a novelty."

Additionally, Murati is already projecting strength as, during a companywide meeting on Friday, she assured OpenAI employees that Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella and CTO Kevin Scott — one of OpenAI’s biggest backers — had “utmost confidence” in OpenAI’s direction.