A secret AI project named ‘Q’ (pronounced Q-Star) at OpenAI that could threaten humanity may have been the reason behind Sam Altman’s ouster as CEO of the ChatGPT-developing company.

According to reports, several staff researchers sent the OpenAI board a letter warning that a powerful AI breakthrough could threaten humanity.

The letter and AI algorithm was a catalyst that caused the board to oust Altman, according to a Reuters report, citing sources.

The previously unknown letter was one of the factors “among a longer list of grievances by the board that led to Altman’s firing”.

The researchers who wrote the letter did not comment, and neither did OpenAI.

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The ChatGPT maker made progress on the ‘Q-Star’ project which could be a breakthrough in the search for superintelligence, also known as artificial general intelligence (AGI).

According to reports, OpenAI’s senior executive Mira Murati told employees the letter “precipitated the board’s actions” to fire Altman last week.

However, an OpenAI spokesperson said that “Murati told employees what the media reports were about but she did not comment on the accuracy of the information”.

A person familiar with the matter told The Verge that the board never received a letter about such a breakthrough. Sam Altman on Wednesday said he is returning to the ChatGPT developing company with a new board and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s support.

OpenAI president and co-founder Greg Brockman also shared a picture with his team on X after he and Altman returned to OpenAI.

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