Was Sam Altman's firing a sudden development due to major drama, or a foreseeable conclusion to a long series of events?
39
419
Ṁ870
resolved Mar 2
90%84%
A foreseeable conclusion to a long series of events
10%16%
A sudden development due to major drama

This is an attempt to consolidate many potential explanations about Altman's firing into two broad, competing narratives.

I believe the board currently seems to be presenting the "foreseeable conclusion" narrative, but the suddenness of Sam's firing has lead many to believe that the Board is declining to publicize substantial recent drama.

As of market creation, I personally think the "foreseeable conclusion" hypothesis is moderately more likely, and that any recent events were merely "last straws" rather than substantial drama. But I am not confident in this narrative, and am open to evidence that it was a sudden development.

As this is a subjective question, I will not bet in this market. I will resolve based on statements from board members, OpenAI employees, Sam/Greg, and credible investigative journalism.


"A sudden development due to major drama" means that Altman was fired because of specific major events/revelations/disagreements that swung the OpenAI board against him recently. It means that if you had privately polled the the board a few weeks before Sam's firing, his approval rating would not have been cause for concern.

The specific recent drama that might have flipped the board's opinion of Sam is not relevant to this market. Some of the board may have disapproved of Sam before recently, but this option will still resolve Yes if it seems likely that Sam would have remained CEO for some time if not for that specific drama.


"A foreseeable conclusion to a long series of events" means that the OpenAI board's opinion of Altman slowly degraded over many months or years, until finally they had had enough and decided to fire him. It means that if you had privately polled the the board a few weeks before Sam's firing, his approval rating would have been low and you would not have been surprised at him being fired soon after.

The specific reasons the board might have slowly lost faith in Sam are not relevant to this market. There might have been a "last straw" reason for firing Sam, but this explanation will nonetheless resolve Yes if it seems likely that without that specific last straw, there would have inevitably been some other "last straw" that would have triggered Sam's firing before long.


If the story remains as unclear and contested at market close(March 1st, 2024) as it is at market creation, I will resolve to the probability I assign each hypothesis.

But if new information emerges and makes it clear to me that one narrative is more accurate than the other, I will announce this in the comments and resolve this market early, resolving the more accurate narrative to Yes and the less accurate narrative to No.

Please let me know if any of these definitions are unclear, and I will be happy to clarify. These rules can be considered in "Draft Form" until I am confident they are satisfactory and will edit the description to pronounce them finalized.

I encourage people to post their reasons for betting on one option or the other, so that we can collectively come to a consensus as new evidence emerges.

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bought Ṁ120 of A foreseeable conclu...

https://www.wsj.com/tech/ai/helen-toner-openai-board-2e4031ef#_=_

I was going to argue for "A foreseeable conclusion to a long series of events", but rereading the description one part seems to strongly indicate "A sudden development due to major drama" fits better:
> this option will still resolve Yes if it seems likely that Sam would have remained CEO for some time if not for that specific drama.
Despite the fact that this was almost certainly not the first time his trust was put into question, it seems pretty clear that the board needed some kind of significant-ish event before they would go through with actually firing him, and that his trying to deceptively get toner off the board was that significant-ish event. Altman would have stayed CEO for a bit otherwise.

Tbh, it seems like he wouldn't have been fired if only for the toner drama, but wouldn't have been fired without it either; in any case, the description indicates that if this is right, that he wouldn't have been fired for a while had it not been for this drama, then "A sudden development due to major drama" should resolve YES

@TheBayesian Hmmm I see where you're coming from, but if you see my comment below, the source that talked about this story with the New Yorker specifically said "things like that had been happening for years".

I'm open to you being right though, I'm not in a hurry to resolve this market when we're still hoping for that internal investigation to pan out which could give us more context.

Do we have any idea when the attempt to oust toner was? The recency is important to this question.

bought Ṁ50 of A foreseeable conclu...

@Joshua dunno when the attempt to oust was, but yeah my position is definitely reliant on it being recent. "things like that had been happening for years" makes sense, and initially seemed to me to indicate option 2, but yeah it doesn't seem like it was quite enough for all those years, and wouldn't have been enough had it not been for this pretty major "ousting attempt" event. dunno if the internal investigation will settle this, hopefully it does

sold Ṁ69 of A foreseeable conclu...

i change my mind 😟 arghh

@TheBayesian

Yeah the time article seems very bullish for foreseeable conclusion. And issued just as we were misinterpreting the WSJ article! Maybe Toner is online reading these messages and manipulating the markets 😅

@Joshua I think you’ve cracked it, and ill go further and conjecture that jackson is actually toner

@TheBayesian Seems plausible

boughtṀ120A foreseeable conclu...

Most of the recent reporting has me leaning more towards "A foreseeable conclusion to a long series of events":

Particularly the line here of "things like that had been happening for years".

bought Ṁ10 of A foreseeable conclu...

What makes me think it is due to major drama is due to the circumstances of the ousting, as it seems like the kind of thing that could severely discredit the board in the eyes of most future investors, and I imagine that the remaining board members would want to avoid this even if they are extremely safety-minded.

I think the full explanation is basically both: there had been a long-standing mistrust between Altman and the board, and then something happened that would've caused very strong (but maybe not this strong) action even under normal circumstances.

We have disagreement! I'd love to hear reasoning.

@Joshua That's... certainly a shape.

Reposting an exchange from the big market comments here to give further insight to my intention with these criteria:

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