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OpenAI Claps Back at Elon Musk’s Lawsuit, Defends Its Mission and AI Development Strategy

Last Updated March 6, 2024 1:33 PM
Samantha Dunn
Last Updated March 6, 2024 1:33 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Elon Musk has sued OpenAI for breach of contract.
  • Keeping OpenAI OpenSource is a key reason for the lawsuit.
  • OpenaI alleges Musk understood their mission did not imply open-sourcing AGI.

OpenAI has publicly responded to Elon Musk’s lawsuit in a recent blog post . The AI company said it will move to dismiss all the claims made by Musk against OpenAI.

Authors attached to the blog post include OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Greg Brockman.

OpenAI Responds

Last week Elon Musk alleged a breach of contract, highlighting that the project has been transformed into a for-profit entity controlled by Microsoft.

OpenAI categorically denies all claims made by Elon Musk in his February lawsuit. The blog post co-authored by Greg Brockman,
Ilya Sutskever, John Schulman, Sam Altman, and Wojciech Zaremba, include emails between OpenAI executives and the Tesla founder.

“We are focused on advancing our mission and have a long way to go. As we continue to make our tools better and better, we are excited to deploy these systems so they empower every individual.” OpenAI said.

The response from OpenAI via the company blog post includes allegations that Elon Musk withheld funding from OpenAI during the negotiations in 2017.

Not-For-Profit or Not For Elon

Elon Musk’s longstanding apprehension about artificial general intelligence (AGI) and its implications for humanity has been a pivotal aspect of his legal confrontation with OpenAI.

He has consistently positioned himself as “pro-human,” contrasting with Google CEO Larry Page’s view of AI as an evolution milestone.

OpenAI’s inception in 2015, with Musk as a co-founder alongside Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, aimed to develop AGI that benefits humanity, emphasizing an open-source, non-profit approach.

$1 Billion Funding Commitment

OpenAI alleges that Musk wanted a merger with Tesla, or “full control” and in the middle of these discussions, he withheld funding.

“As we discussed a for-profit structure in order to further the mission, Elon wanted us to merge with Tesla or he wanted full control. Elon left OpenAI, saying there needed to be a relevant competitor to Google/DeepMind and that he was going to do it himself. He said he’d be supportive of us finding our own path.”

“We need to go with a much bigger number than $100M to avoid sounding hopeless… I think we should say that we are starting with a $1B funding commitment… I will cover whatever anyone else doesn’t provide.” Musk said in the email.

OpenSourcing “Not Part of the Mission”

OpenAI’s journey from an open-source AI lab to a more closed, for-profit was hinted at by the lack of a technical paper for GPT-4 in March 2023.

This transformation was marked by several milestones, including the establishment of a for-profit arm in 2019 and a pivotal partnership with Microsoft in 2020, which granted the tech giant exclusive access to GPT-3 and subsequent AI technologies in exchange for funding.

In emails exchanged in 2018, shared by OpenAI in their latest update, Elon Musk appears to accept OpenAI’s transition to “being less open”.

“As we get closer to building AI, it will make sense to start being less open. The Open in openAI means that everyone should benefit from the fruits of AI after its built, but it’s totally OK to not share the science…”, to which Elon replied: “Yup”.

The high-profile case between tech giants is attracting attention  on social platforms, with both Elon Musk and OpenAI using their public forums as a space to both defend and attack.

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