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  • Writer's pictureSarah Ruivivar

Elon Musk Sues OpenAI, Alleging Profit-Driven Mission Shift

📸 ModelProp / Midjourney

Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur, is taking OpenAI, the company he co-founded, to court.

Musk alleges that the startup has deviated from its original mission of developing artificial intelligence (AI) for the benefit of humanity, instead focusing on profit-making.

The lawsuit, filed in the California Superior Court in San Francisco, marks the peak of Musk's longstanding opposition to the direction OpenAI has taken. Since its inception, OpenAI has become a prominent player in generative AI, largely due to substantial funding from Microsoft.

Musk's lawsuit accuses OpenAI's CEO, Sam Altman, and co-founder Greg Brockman of breaching their original agreement to create an open-source, non-profit organisation. Instead, Musk alleges, OpenAI is now primarily concerned with generating revenue.

The lawsuit also claims that OpenAI's founders initially agreed to work on artificial general intelligence (AGI), AI that could perform tasks like a human, in a way that would "benefit humanity." However, according to the lawsuit, OpenAI "set the founding agreement aflame" in 2023 when it released its powerful language model, GPT-4, essentially as a Microsoft product.

Musk seeks a court ruling that would force OpenAI to make its research and technology public and prevent the startup from using its assets, including GPT-4, for the financial gain of Microsoft or any individual. He is also seeking a ruling that GPT-4 and a new, more advanced technology called Q* be considered AGI and therefore outside of Microsoft's license to OpenAI.

OpenAI's top executives have rejected several of Musk's claims, according to a memo cited by Axios. "It was never going to be a cakewalk," Altman said in his note. "The attacks will keep coming."

Musk's lawsuit against OpenAI adds another chapter to the ongoing debate about the ethics and regulation of AI. As AI continues to evolve, the question of who controls this technology and how it is used becomes increasingly urgent.

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