Elon Musk Sues OpenAI And CEO Sam Altman Over Abandoned Non-Profit Promise

Elon Musk is suing OpenAI and Sam Altman for breaching startup’s founding agreement and putting profit ahead of benefitting humanity

By Stermy 3 Min Read

Elon Musk sues OpenAI and CEO Sam Altman for the breach of the firm’s founding mission.

Elon Musk, a billionaire aged 52 and former co-founder of OpenAI, has raised concerns about the organization’s departure from its original mission of prioritizing the betterment of humanity over profit.

Musk, who is known for his ventures such as Tesla and SpaceX, filed a lawsuit in San Francisco on Thursday, alleging that OpenAI, along with CEO Sam Altman, deviated from their founding principles.

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The suit targets the restructuring of OpenAI’s leadership, particularly Altman’s removal and subsequent reappointment with support from Microsoft.

Musk contends that Altman, along with OpenAI President Greg Brockman and Microsoft, orchestrated the removal of most of the startup’s board members, who were tasked with upholding its initial mission of developing technology for humanity’s benefit.

Musk’s legal action seeks a court ruling to compel OpenAI to share its research and technology with the public and to prevent the exploitation of its assets, including its advanced AI model GPT-4, for Microsoft’s financial gain or that of any individual.

Related: Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO, weds same-sex partner on $43M Hawaii estate

Additionally, Musk demands a jury trial and seeks restitution from OpenAI, Altman, and Brockman for profits derived from the organization.

Originally established as a safeguard against the perceived threats of artificial generative intelligence (AGI) to humanity, OpenAI’s governance involved a board overseeing the company’s products, with code transparency as a fundamental principle.

However, Altman, Brockman, and Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever formed OpenAI LP, a for-profit entity within the company, leading to substantial valuation growth, largely attributed to Altman’s strategies.

The lawsuit also references a leadership crisis in the past year, resulting in Altman’s temporary removal from the company due to concerns regarding AI risks. Following intervention from Microsoft, Altman was reinstated, signaling a victory for those advocating for AI commercialization.

Musk’s complaint highlights Microsoft’s pervasive influence over OpenAI, despite Microsoft not being directly named as a defendant. The lawsuit alleges that OpenAI has become a subsidiary of Microsoft, prioritizing profit over its original mission.

Having severed ties with OpenAI in 2018, Musk continues to voice concerns about AI’s potential dangers. He characterizes the current leadership of OpenAI as driven by greed, emphasizing the contrasting perspectives on AGI’s implications — existential threat versus profit opportunity.

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