1709293367 Elon Musk is suing OpenAI and Sam Altman for betrayal

Elon Musk is suing OpenAI and Sam Altman for “betrayal” of a nonprofit AI mission

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Elon Musk on Thursday sued OpenAI, its co-founders Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, and affiliated companies, claiming ChatGPT creators violated their original contractual agreements by pursuing profits rather than the nonprofit's founding mission of developing AI that the benefits humanity.

Musk, an early backer of OpenAI, claims that Altman and Brockman convinced him to help found and fund the startup in 2015 with the promise that it would be a nonprofit focused on fending off the competitive threat from Google .

The lawsuit says OpenAI has transitioned to a for-profit model focused on commercializing its AGI research with Microsoft, the most valuable company in the world.

“In reality, however, OpenAI, Inc. has transformed itself into a closed-source, de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft. Under its new board, it is not only developing an AGI, but is actually refining it to maximize profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanity,” the lawsuit continues. “This was a blatant betrayal of the founding agreement.”

The lawsuit follows Musk expressing displeasure with OpenAI's shifting priorities over the past year. According to the lawsuit, Musk donated over $44 million to the nonprofit between 2016 and September 2020. In the early years, Musk made the largest contribution to OpenAI, the lawsuit continues. Musk was offered a stake in OpenAI's for-profit arm but refused to accept it for ethical reasons, he previously said.

The lawsuit, filed in a San Francisco court, revolves around OpenAI's latest natural language model, GPT-4, which Musk claims is AGI – an AI whose intelligence is on par with that of humans, if not is even higher. He accuses OpenAI and Microsoft of improperly licensing GPT-4 even though they agreed that OpenAI's AGI features would remain non-profit and dedicated to humanity.

Musk wants to force OpenAI to stick to its original mission and prohibit monetization of technologies developed within his nonprofit to benefit OpenAI leaders or partners like Microsoft.

The lawsuit also asks the court to rule that AI systems like GPT-4 and other advanced models in development constitute artificial general intelligence that goes beyond licensing agreements. In addition to the injunctions forcing OpenAI to act, Musk is demanding an accounting and possible refund of donations intended to fund his public research if the court finds that the company is now working for private purposes.

“Mr. Altman handpicked a new board that lacked similar technical expertise or significant background in AI governance that the previous board naturally possessed. Mr. D'Angelo, a tech CEO and entrepreneur, “was the only member of the previous board remaining after Mr. Altman's return. The new board consisted of members with more experience in for-profit companies or politics than in AI ethics and governance,” the lawsuit continues.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.