OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever says the time is coming when AI will be able to think as well or even better than people, affecting every aspect of human activity

San Francisco (AFP) - OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever announced his departure Tuesday from the startup that ignited an artificial intelligence tech race with its release of ChatGPT.

Sutskever said on X, formerly Twitter, that he was leaving after almost a decade at OpenAI, whose “trajectory has been nothing short of miraculous.”

“I’m confident that OpenAI will build AGI that is both safe and beneficial,” he added, referring to artificial general intelligence – digital technology that seeks to perform as well as or better than human cognition.

Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist, sat on the board that voted to remove chief executive and fellow co-founder Sam Altman in November last year.

The ousting threw the San Francisco-based startup into a tumult, with the OpenAI board hiring Altman back a few days later after staff and investors rebelled.

Sutskever’s position on the board was not renewed, but he remained in his position at OpenAI.

“It was an honor and a privilege to have worked together, and I will miss everyone dearly,” Sutskever said of colleagues in the post.

He added that he will focus on a personal project.

OpenAI on Monday released a higher performing and even more human-like version of the artificial intelligence technology that underpins ChatGPT, making it free to all users.

The new mode, GPT-4o, will be rolled out in OpenAI’s products over the next few weeks, the company said, with paid customers having unlimited access to the tool.

The company said the model could generate content or understand commands in voice, text, or images.

“It feels like AI from the movies,” Altman said in a blog post.

Altman has previously pointed to the Scarlett Johansson character in the movie “Her” as an inspiration for where he would like AI interactions to go.

Google also showed off its latest AI innovations at an annual developers conference on Tuesday.

OpenAI and Microsoft are in a heated rivalry with Google to be generative AI’s major player, but Facebook-owner Meta and upstart Anthropic are also making big moves to compete.

The day will come when “digital brains will become as good and even better than our own,” Sutskever said during a talk at a TED AI summit in San Francisco late last year.

“AGI will have a dramatic impact on every area of life.”