Statement by Annie Altman, Sam Altman's Sibling
“How We Do Anything Is How We Do Everything”
I have experienced drama like the OpenAI drama — I grew up in it. I was repeatedly told “not to talk about it,” and to allow another person to remove my human agency.
I have lived under my sibling’s authority my whole life.
The narrative of “Annie is crazy” and “Annie doesn’t know how to take care of herself” is what I was raised and conditioned in. That narrative, along with intentionally conditional love, is what was used to control me my whole life.
When I went “no contact,” I learned even more about the control he wielded. It’s not just me, it’s his social and professional circles also. It’s terrifying how many people have told me privately they support me, but are terrified to speak publicly on my behalf.
Since going no contact from my living relatives in 2020, my literal and virtual life continue to be extremely restricted. I’ve had multiple accounts get hacked. My podcast ratings and YouTube views seemed to be removed. My presence seems difficult to find on Google. I am not sure how this is happening, and I don’t have the resources to investigate further. At one point recently a high school faculty member, from our same school, spoke with me and attempted to convince me to break no contact.
Going no contact was far from an easy decision.
I attempted every other possibility, including family therapy in early 2020. After two sessions together with my mother and brother, my therapist privately advised me that no contact was my best option, which I resisted for another four months. During this time, I was managing PCOS (several ovarian cysts) and repeat Achilles tendinopathy that severely limited my walking and normal movement abilities. I was also grieving our Dad who died in May 2018.
I quit a job because of being notified of money left to me from my Dad, and made a plan to take six months to heal my body. I notified my relatives of my health and my plan. While in the paperwork process, I was notified that the money was withheld from me until I’m in my 60s. Though separated, my parents were still legally married and so my mother had the “surviving spouse” option to ignore Dad’s wish to make me the primary beneficiary of his 401K.
Dad had a known heart condition, but still had to work full time until his death in 2018. Dad was very involved in affordable housing and reconstruction of historic buildings in St. Louis City. I had asked my sibling for years to give our Dad the financial help to stop working. Dad openly expressed his dream to retire in Costa Rica.
Jerry Altman died of a heart attack at age 67, without the dream his son could have fulfilled.
While still very physically ill and simultaneously managing intense and horrific flashbacks from PTSD, I began in person sex work in late 2020. I was unable to fully financially support myself with the virtual sex work I had already started, and with unemployment benefits from California. I applied for unemployment in 2020, at first not wanting to apply and “clog up” the process, because of my millionaire relatives I naively assumed would help me, and then was delayed in receiving benefits due to identity theft.
I was too physically ill with PCOS (several ovarian cysts) and repeat Achilles tendinopathy that severely limited my walking and normal movement abilities to work a standing job, and too mentally ill with daily flashbacks to do computer work.
I also desperately needed money for physical therapy so I could become healthier and support myself in the future. I felt like a zombie getting through every day while budgeting how much labor my body and brain could manage.
My sibling offered to buy me a home in 2021, reaching out with seemingly kind words after a year and half of no contact. We spoke on the phone three times, and through these conversations I began to suspect the offer was another attempt at control. It seemed I would never have direct ownership of the house. Also, given the nature of my PTSD flashbacks, the house felt like an unsafe place to actually heal my mind and body.
With regard to the current situation at OpenAI (and with tech in general), I feel the drama is a red herring.
The best case scenario is middle school-style interpersonal drama, with much higher money and power stakes. The worst case scenario is a distraction from something(s) that are more dangerous.
Calling employees in the middle of night to secure their public display of loyalty seems like cultish hazing.
Given my belief that “how you do anything is how you do everything”, and given the power of the technological revolution, I am concerned with where and how that power is being inequitably distributed. I am also concerned about who will benefit from that power, and in what ways.
I would love to see and support technology being used to equitably distribute basic human resources, which is far different from its current use.
My intention in sharing my story is to share my most personal and human truth, and to heal. In my own sharing, I wish to encourage others to find their truth and their healing.
I seek sovereignty for myself, and for child-me who was told to stay quiet about other people’s secrets — even when it made me physically ill.
I aim to give others the information of my story, while healing my own pains. My wish is to help others find their personal truth and healing from their pains — we’re all human.
We all advance as humans when we all tell our story.