Mira Murati is the new interim CEO of OpenAI, effective immediately, according to the company's board of directors, which announced Sam Altman was out as CEO.
OpenAI's new CEO is a 34-year-old originally from Albania who's already a force in artificial intelligence after stints at companies including Tesla and Leap Motion.
Mira Murati had been OpenAI's chief technology officer until the board appointed her interim CEO on Friday afternoon after it sent shockwaves through the tech world when it announced that Sam Altman would be departing from his roles as CEO and board member.
A search process for Altman's permanent successor is now underway, but in the meantime, Murati is a good fit, the board said in a statement.
"A member of OpenAI's leadership team for five years, Mira has played a critical role in OpenAI's evolution into a global AI leader. She brings a unique skill set, understanding of the company's values, operations, and business, and already leads the company's research, product, and safety functions," OpenAI said in a post announcing Altman's departure.
"Given her long tenure and close engagement with all aspects of the company, including her experience in AI governance and policy, the board believes she is uniquely qualified for the role and anticipates a seamless transition while it conducts a formal search for a permanent CEO."
The company also directed Business Insider to its blog post on Altman's departure when asked for a comment from from Murati.
Murati joined OpenAI as a researcher in 2018 when the company had just 40 to 50 employees, she told Fortune.
And Murati is not just optimistic about AI. She's also a believer in the power of artificial general intelligence, or AGI, which her now ex-colleague, Altman, once described as "the equivalent of a median human that you could hire as a co-worker."
Murati contended that technology that will be built on the road to AGI could be "the most important set of technologies that humanity has ever built" to Fortune, noting that OpenAI's belief in AGI was also one of the reasons she was first drawn to the company.
"Our goal is to get to AGI, and we want to get there in a way that makes sure that AGI goes well for humanity," Murati told Fortune. And in the past few months, OpenAI has only doubled down on that focus, changing its core values in October from "thoughtful" and "audacious" and "impact-driven" to having an "AGI focus" and being "intense and scrappy."
Suffice it to say, under Murati's leadership the company is likely to continue pushing the frontier of AGI.
At the same time, Murati has also said she understands fears around the potential threat of AI's "bad actors." In February, the then-CTO told Time magazine that tools like ChatGPT "can be misused, or it can be used by bad actors."
"It's important for OpenAI and companies like ours to bring this into the public consciousness in a way that's controlled and responsible," Murati said during the interview.
Even before Murati joined OpenAI, she was an established presence in Silicon Valley through roles at Tesla, where she worked on the Model X, and Leap Motion.
She left her home country of Albania at the age of 16, after winning a scholarship to study at an international school in Vancouver, and went on to Dartmouth where she studied mechanical engineering, according to Fortune.
And she has an artistic side, too — drawing inspiration from poetry, sci-fi films, and rock bands.
She told Time Magazine back in February that her go-to song for inspiration is "Paranoid Android" by Radiohead because it's "layered and touches on themes related to society on technology."
She is a fan of Duino Elegies, a collection of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, and even now, the sci-fi flick "2001: A Space Odyssey" "continues to stir my imagination with its imagery and music," she told Time.