Elon Musk sues OpenAI over alleged mission drift towards profit

  • Musk alleges OpenAI breached their initial contract by prioritizing financial gains, diverging from their original open-source, non-profit vision.
  • Musk has been a proponent of AI regulation and criticized Microsoft’s influence on OpenAI, leading to his departure from the board in 2018.
  • The relationship between Microsoft and OpenAI faces regulatory scrutiny and governance changes after a boardroom clash and the upcoming appointment of new board members.

Tech mogul Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and its CEO Sam Altman, accusing the organization of deviating from its original mission of developing artificial intelligence for the betterment of humanity. The lawsuit, lodged in San Francisco late on Thursday, marks a contentious legal battle between Musk and the very company he helped co-found, now a prominent player in the field of generative AI.

Musk’s legal allegations against OpenAI

Musk’s legal action alleges a breach of contract, claiming that Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman strayed from their initial vision of creating an open-source, non-profit entity. Instead, Musk asserts that OpenAI, bolstered by substantial funding from Microsoft, has shifted its focus to prioritize financial gains over altruistic goals.

The lawsuit specifically calls for OpenAI to release its research and technology to the public while preventing the company from leveraging its assets, including the advanced AI model GPT-4, for the benefit of Microsoft or any individual entity. Despite repeated attempts, neither OpenAI, Microsoft, nor Musk have provided immediate comments on the matter.

Also read: Musk denies $500 million funding round as his AI company seeks $1 billion

Musk’s advocacy for AI regulation

Elon Musk, known for his leadership at Tesla, SpaceX, and recent acquisition of Twitter, has been a vocal advocate for AI regulation, citing concerns about the potential risks posed by advanced artificial intelligence technologies. His departure from OpenAI’s board in 2018 was accompanied by criticisms of Microsoft’s increasing influence within the organization, a sentiment he reiterated in a past interview.

The entanglement between Microsoft and OpenAI has drawn regulatory scrutiny in both the United States and Britain, stemming from a tumultuous boardroom clash last year that saw Altman temporarily ousted and reinstated, leading to the formation of a new interim board. Reports indicate that OpenAI is set to appoint several new board members in March, possibly reshaping the company’s governance structure.

Also read: Elon Musk denies xAI funding speculation, says not seeking capital

Musk’s new AI venture: xAI

Meanwhile, Elon Musk has launched his own AI venture, xAI, assembling a team of top engineers from major tech companies to rival existing AI initiatives. The startup recently introduced Grok, a ChatGPT competitor available to Premium+ subscribers on Musk’s social media platform X, with ambitions to develop a truth-seeking AI ecosystem.

As the tech industry grapples with the implications of Musk’s legal battle and the broader discourse on AI ethics and governance, the future of generative AI remains uncertain. The widespread adoption of technologies like ChatGPT underscores the competitive landscape among tech giants racing to harness the potential of AI for various applications, raising questions about accountability and transparency in this rapidly evolving domain.


Cherry Qiu

Cherry Qiu was an intern reporter at BTW media covering AI. She majored in journalism and has various working experiences.

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