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Friday, 01 March 2024 14:52

Elon Musk sues Open AI, Sam Altman for changing company’s mission

Billionaire Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit against ChatGPT maker, OpenAi and the company’s co-founders, Sam Altman and Greg Brockman for turning the company into a profit-making venture. 

Musk, who co-founded and one of the early backers of OpenAI said the mission of the company was to be a non-profit that develops AI for the benefit of humanity.  

The Tesla CEO claims that Altman and Brockman convinced him to help found and bankroll the startup in 2015 with promises it would be a non-profit focused on countering the competitive threat from Google.  

According to the lawsuit, the founding agreement required OpenAI to make its technology “freely available” to the public. 

OpenAI’s partnership with Microsoft 

The lawsuit, filed in a court in San Francisco late Thursday, says that OpenAI, the world’s most valuable AI startup, has shifted to a for-profit model focused on commercializing its AGI research after partnering with Microsoft, the world’s most valuable company that has invested about $13 billion into the startup. 

  • “In reality, however, OpenAI, Inc. has been transformed into a closed-source de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft.  
  • Under its new board, it is not just developing but is actually refining an AGI to maximize profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanityThis was a stark betrayal of the Founding Agreement, the lawsuit claims.  

According to the legal complaint, Musk donated over $44 million to the non-profit between 2016 to September 2020. For the first several years, he was the largest contributor to OpenAI, the lawsuit adds.  

About a year ago, Elon Musk had taken to his platform, X, to complain about OpenAI’s loss of focus.  

  • OpenAI was created as an open source (which is why I named it “Open” AI), non-profit company to serve as a counterweight to Google, but now it has become a closed source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft. 
  • Not what I intended at all. 

What you should know 

Musk left OpenAI’s board in 2018 and no longer holds a stake in the company. In December 2022 when ChatGPT just launched, Musk described ChatGPT as “scary good”, adding “We are not far from dangerously strong AI.” 

In February last year, Open AI introduced  a paid version of ChatGPT as it became a profit-oriented company. The subscription for ChatGPT Plus costs users $20 every month.  

The monetization of the service started just as a research report suggested that the AI tool reached an estimated 100 million monthly active users in January 2023, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history. 


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