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A self-described libertarian just won a presidency. In Argentina, Javier Milei—who proudly describes himself as a classical liberal and an anarcho-capitalist, ran on a libertarian platform, and named his pack of dogs after various free market economists—just beat Sergio Massa, a Peronist, to become president.
In turn, Milei has been described as a “populist” (by CNBC and the Associated Press and Politico), a “far-right outsider” (CNN), a “Trump-like libertarian” (The Washington Post), a “victory for [the] far right” (The New York Times), and, more amusingly, “Wolverine” (The Guardian). Some people have described this as evidence of democracy in peril, as if winning the most votes, after campaigning to convince the electorate of their competence, is somehow an example of an election being rigged. (Sometimes democracy means accepting outcomes you dislike!)
The libertarian “landed some 56% of the vote versus just over 44% for his rival, Peronist Economy Minister Sergio Massa,” reports Reuters. It turns out that running for president as the person setting economic policy—in a place crippled by hyperinflation—isn’t actually a winning strategy after all.
As recently as April 2020, “$1 bought 80 pesos,” reports The New York Times. “This week, $1 bought nearly 1,000 pesos.” Milei’s platform advocates radical reforms to cure Argentina’s fiscal woes. He says he will dollarize the country, shutter the central bank, and force massive spending cuts. In a clip that went viral, he talks about smashing tons of existing government ministries, such as the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Women, Genders, and Diversity. He has floated abortion bans and lifting regulations on gun ownership. He says only countries that actively “fight against socialism” should be allies.
He may be thwarted by his relative inexperience, his admitted status as a political outsider, and the fact that he doesn’t have a large enough coalition of supporters in government to really pass many of the things he hopes to. His idiosyncratic ways, hardcore rhetoric, and dope sideburns also bolster the perception that he’s an atypical politician not looked on kindly by much of the media.
“Today starts the rebuilding of Argentina,” Milei said in his victory speech. “There’s no room for gradual measures.”
Check out the interview Zach Weissmueller and I conducted recently with Argentine political scientist Marcos Falcone on how a Milei presidency could turn Argentina’s economic fate around; an interview Weissmueller conducted with Gloria Alvarez and Eduardo Marty on Milei’s prospects; the Reason Roundtable episode where Matt Welch, Nick Gillespie, Peter Suderman, and Katherine Mangu-Ward explore the Milei rise; and Daniel Raisbeck’s excellent piece on pundits’ foolish comparisons between Milei and the Brazilian autocrat Jair Bolsonaro.
Consistently candid: On Friday at noon, OpenAI’s board asked CEO Sam Altman to join a meeting. The board of the massively valued company, which makes ChatGPT, fired Altman on the spot. Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president and one of Altman’s cofounders, had not been invited to the meeting; he was fired from the board and subsequently resigned from the company.
The board released almost no reasoning for their decision, saying only that Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities” and that “the board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.” Internally, little more was communicated to employees. Chief technology officer Mira Murati was appointed interim CEO, and speculation swirled as to why Altman had been dismissed, why so many top decision makers had been blindsided by this, and what the company’s future would look like. (Disclosure: My husband works for OpenAI.)
In the days prior, Altman had been going about business as usual. He’d been widely considered a rising star in Silicon Valley, the subject of attempted hit pieces and lots of lore. After the dismissal by the board—comprised currently of Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, GeoSim Systems CEO Tasha McCauley, and Georgetown’s Helen Toner, who directs strategy and grants at the school’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology—it became clear that investors, employees, and a hefty chunk of leadership did not support the decision.
Murati and others started attempting to get Altman to come back:
Late last night, this move was swatted away. Murati was dismissed and replaced by new CEO Emmett Shear (formerly of Twitch), and Altman was hired by Microsoft, which has invested $13 billion in OpenAI.
Shear is not widely regarded as a competent pick, and the middle-of-the-night move is being cited as more evidence that the board does not know what it’s doing:
Shear is widely seen as a decel—that is, someone who wants to slow down the rate of progress in artificial intelligence:
Why did this happen? “The board did *not* remove Sam over any specific disagreement on safety, their reasoning was completely different from that,” wrote Emmett Shear on X. The board has released no additional reasoning about what Altman might have done to warrant this treatment.
Now, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has poached Altman and Brockman. Several top developers resigned immediately in the wake of the Altman news:
Lots of employees are locked out of their computers as of this morning. The company is in complete disarray. And Sutskever, thought to be the main person leading the ouster, just bizarrely tweeted this:
The vast majority of the employees have signed a letter urging the board to resign and threatening to flee to Microsoft, which has jobs available for them:
In short: Altman was removed via board coup, which the unique governance structure of OpenAI allows, with no reasoning stated. Now there’s a mutiny by employees who have lost all faith in the board, and Microsoft is masticating the delicious pieces.
Scenes from New York:
In 2008, famed New York City pastry chef Christina Tosi opened up Milk Bar with seed money provided by Momofuku boss David Chang. Now, in 2023, they’ve finally realized the error in their pie-naming ways:
- “Is this what a soft landing looks like, or are we simply going from boom into the hard bounce of a recession?” asks Joe Weisenthal at Bloomberg.