November 20, 2023
Last week in the beating heart of Silicon Valley, where humanity is not short of messiahs, a very human story started with independent school parallels and emerging impacts—one that is still unfolding. A deep dive into the tensions that have led to this schism is necessary for independent schools before they consider large scale changes to their curriculum and program around a technology that is still far from being a sustainable and usable product.
The tension at OpenAI ironically mirrors the tension we see at independent schools: our schools are non-profit organizations essentially running a product-based business (a school with enrollment and a range of services) but at the same time often aspiring to a higher future-focused purpose (a mission) that might require greater investment, research, and development. In both circumstances the conflict is real; the demands on resources equally acute; the access or availability of computing or cognitive capacity for growth similarly limited: and the effects on humanity also at stake, albeit in different ways.
The non-profit Board of OpenAI, which controls the for-profit subsidiary responsible for ChatGPT (see chart below), fired its CEO Sam Altman. Details are sketchy but it seems that at the…