Elon Musk sues OpenAI, accuses Sam Altman of “betraying the company’s mission”

by Jerry

Elon Musk is suing OpenAI, Sam Altman (CEO) and Greg Brockman (president). Musk says the company and its leaders have betrayed the goal of developing artificial intelligence for the good of humanity, not for profit. The argument is that the developer of ChatGPT has become a subsidiary of Microsoft, its main investor.

Musk, Altman, and Brockman are co-founders of OpenAI. The argument of the lawsuit (PDF) dates back to this period. Musk alleges that Altman and Brockman convinced him to help with the foundation and invest in the company with the promise that it would be non-profit. The foundation agreement would have defined that the technology developed by OpenAI should be made available for free.

Musk Says Altman and Microsoft Made Plot
In the lawsuit, Musk argues that OpenAI “has been transformed into a closed-source company, a de facto subsidiary of the world’s largest technology company: Microsoft.”

Here, an explanation is in order: there are two OpenAIs. OpenAI, Inc. is a non-profit organization. To raise funds for AI development, she created OpenAI Global, LLC, a company with limited profit. Microsoft has invested about $13 billion in OpenAI Global, LLC, and owns 49% of the company, with the other 51% being OpenAI, Inc.

The Windows developer is putting generative AI technologies into many of its products, from Azure to Notepad. Even so, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, assures that it does not control OpenAI.

The lawsuit mentions the episode of Altman and Brockman’s firing in November 2023. Days later, they returned to their positions, and OpenAI’s board underwent major changes. Musk accuses the two and Microsoft of working together to dismiss the board, which would be fighting to ensure the company’s original mission.

Lawsuit Aims to Prevent Financial Benefits
The lawsuit aims to compel Altman, Brockman, and OpenAI to re-fulfill the promises of the founding agreement. This includes making the research and technologies developed available to the public and prohibiting Altman, Brockman, and Microsoft from having financial benefits from OpenAI.

Musk is also asking the judge to find that GPT-4 is an artificial general intelligence (AGI), which would remove it from the licensing agreement with Microsoft. The entrepreneur also wants this to apply to technologies currently under development.

The lawsuit also requests that an accounting be made of the donations made to OpenAI by Musk and others, what technologies were developed thanks to that money, and how much Altman, Brockman and others had in personal benefits because of it.

Finally, Musk calls for possible damages to be donated to nonprofits or charities.

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