OpenAI Reverses Transparency Pledge, Denies Access to Key Documents

Despite previously stating that its governing documents were public, OpenAI declined to provide these records to WIRED journalists, marking a significant policy shift.
Openai Forms Team For Public Ai Model Input Integration
Openai Forms Team For Public Ai Model Input Integration

The company, initiated by tech luminaries including Elon Musk, was designed to be more open than counterparts like Google in AI development. OpenAI’s tax filings consistently stated that governing documents and financial statements were publicly accessible. However, when WIRED requested these documents, the response from OpenAI spokesperson Niko Felix indicated a change in policy since 2022, aligning more with industry standards of not distributing internal documents.

This lack of transparency comes amid recent turmoil within OpenAI, including the temporary firing and reinstatement of CEO Sam Altman. Understanding the influence of Altman’s personal investments and potential conflicts of interest in OpenAI’s decision-making process remains challenging without access to the company’s conflict-of-interest policy.

OpenAI’s shift to a more closed approach is evident since 2019 when it formed a for-profit subsidiary and aligned closely with Microsoft. This change has led to reduced openness about its AI technology and financial operations. Despite Altman’s assertion that OpenAI’s clients remained loyal during its governance crisis, the lack of transparency could impact public trust and regulatory relationships.

OpenAI’s IRS filings for 2023, which would reflect this policy change, are due later this year. While the nonprofit’s annual IRS reports are available online through various databases, the refusal to share internal documents limits insight into the company’s operations and governance. As OpenAI grows in influence, the implications of its reduced openness and the potential impact on AI development and ethics remain a concern.

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