OpenAI’s Head of Trust and Safety, Dave Willner, Is Stepping Down

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OpenAI’s Head of Trust and Safety, Dave Willner, Is Stepping Down

OpenAI’s head of trust and safety, Dave Willner, announced in a LinkedIn post on Thursday that he plans to step down from the position.

Citing the pressure of his job on his family life as the reason behind the decision, Willner wrote that he will still be available at an advisory level.

Willner, an industry veteran, has been the AI firm’s head of trust and safety since February 2022. Considering how crucial the trust and safety departments have become for tech companies in their efforts to limit misinformation, hate speech, and other harmful content on their platforms, he sure played an important role in the company.

What Does This Mean for OpenAI?

Unfortunately for OpenAI, Willner’s decision to step down comes at a crucial time for the AI firm. Following the massive success of ChatGPT later last year, the company came under heavy scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers, and the public.

Dave Willner will continue to advise the team until the end of 2023.

Concerns over the safety of OpenAI’s products and their potential effects on society are on the rise, especially in Europe. The company itself stated that it relies heavily on its trust and safety team to build “the processes and capabilities to prevent misuse and abuse of AI technologies”.

The company went on to add that it is now seeking a technically skilled lead to replace Willner and advance its mission by focusing on designing, developing, and implementing systems that ensure scalable growth and the safe use of its technology.

His work has been foundational in operationalizing our commitment to the safe and responsible use of our technology and has paved the way for future progress in this field.OpenAI

In the meantime, the company’s Chief Technology Officer, Mira Murati, will fill in as the interim manager of the trust and safety team.

Willner’s Lustrous Career

Though Willner held his post at OpenAI for only a year and a half, he has had a long career in the field and led trust and safety teams at Facebook and Airbnb in the past.

Willner, in his LinkedIn post, expressed his pride over everything his team had accomplished during his time at OpenAI.

In fact, he was one of the early employees at Facebook who helped develop the company’s first community standards position that continues to be the basis for the company’s approach even today.

During his time at Facebook, Willner was particularly known for his outspoken positions advocating the freedom of speech and how Facebook should resist demands to ban controversial posts and groups.

OpenAI initially recruited Willner to help figure out solutions to prevent the misuse of its AI image generator DALL-E.

While he described his job as “one of the coolest and most interesting”, he admitted that it had grown dramatically in its scope. Willner explained that both he and his wife, Charlotte Willner, who was also a trust and safety specialist, had made commitments to prioritize their family.

However, the growing pressure at work kept him from keeping his end of the bargain, eventually leading to his decision to step down.

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