Sam Altman was ousted as the high-profile head of the artificial intelligence company OpenAI on Friday, leading to speculation about what caused the move and what Altman might do next. But claims that Altman would run for president of the United States in 2024 appear to be inaccurate, even though there’s a very good reason this rumor got started.
Users on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, started pointing out Friday afternoon that a simple Google search for “Sam Altman” showed the tech executive’s X account as one of the top hits. But scrolling down to Altman’s profile shows a rather peculiar preview of the content hosted there.
As you can see in the screenshot I took below, it looks like Altman’s account has tweeted, “I am running for President as a Democrat in 2024. My campaign will be about four main things. First and foremost, it will be about the economy. We have to make…” before trailing off.
Why is this happening? It appears to be a technical glitch with Altman’s X account. The exact text was used by Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota who announced his candidacy for president on October 27. Phillips, a Democrat, is challenging incumbent president Joe Biden for the nomination, though he’s considered a long shot to actually get the nomination, despite Biden’s abysmal approval numbers with the American public.
But how did a tweet from Phillips become associated with Altman? It looks like Altman wrote about Phillips approvingly on October 27, writing at the time, “this is interesting, and i think close to what the majority of voters actually want: a reasonable, centrist candidate running on 1) a message of a strong economy and increasing affordability 2) a focus on safety and 3) generational change. curious to see what happens.”
It’s not clear why Google would be indexing a quote-tweet as a native tweet sent by Altman, but X has struggled in some technical aspects ever since Elon Musk bought the company and fired an enormous number of people who kept the site up and running.
Altman’s ouster as the CEO of OpenAI came as a shock to most people working in tech, especially since Altman had become a very public face of the company that runs ChatGPT. The OpenAI board’s public statement about its reason for dismissing Altman was that he was “not consistently candid,” without providing any further context for what that means.
To top it all off, Greg Brockman, a co-founder of OpenAI, quit the company after news of Altman’s firing was made public. Brockman issued what was billed as a joint statement with Altman on X late Friday but it only provided a chronology of events rather than any explanation for why Altman was actually let go.
The popular narrative being reported by people like tech journalist Kara Swisher is that Altman was “pushing too far, too fast” with a form of technology that some are concerned could harm humanity. Swisher also reported that Altman was “manipulative and headstrong,” though that description could fit any number of leaders in Silicon Valley and wouldn’t be the kind of thing that anyone thinks would lead to such a drastic and unexpected leadership change.
It looks like we’ll just have to wait to get any serious answers about this historic shake-up. But for now we can say pretty definitively that it looks like Altman won’t be running for president. At least not anytime soon.