The Wall Street Journal reports that indeed Altman thought the board had been "taken over by people overly concerned with safety and influenced by effective altruism."

"The specter of effective altruism had loomed over the politics of the board and company in recent months...."

"Some of those fears centered on [Helen] Toner, who previously worked at Open Philanthropy" – an EA outfit – and who in October wrote a paper praising OpenAI competitor Anthropic's more conservative safetyist approach.

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While it certainly was an excess of safetyism that led to the lockdowns, one could easily argue it was a sore lack of it that caused the pandemic to spread in the first place and then the vaccines to be massively deployed while ignoring every safety signal.

The "excess optimism kills" lens works just as well if not better than the "excess safetyism kills" lens to interpret what happened in this specific scenario. To each their bias and we'll balance each other out, I hope.

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