Elon Musk vs Sam Altman fight starts as Musk sues OpenAI, says paid ChatGPT is betrayal of original mission

Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit against Sam Altman and OpenAI because the company has deviated from its original ideology, which focused on developing AI for the benefit of humanity, instead of for profit.
Elon Musk vs Sam Altman fight starts as Musk sues OpenAI, says paid ChatGPT is betrayal of original mission
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit against Sam Altman and OpenAI for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and unfair business practices by “maximising profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanity”. Musk filed a lawsuit on Thursday in San Francisco court. In the lawsuit, Musk has reiterated something he has been saying for a few years now, that OpenAI's recent collaboration with Microsoft has eroded the company's original commitment to developing public, open-source artificial general intelligence.

In the lawsuit, Musk demands that OpenAI, alongside its president Gregory Brockman and CEO Sam Altman, who have been named co-defendants in the lawsuit, and Microsoft, be barred from profiting from the company's artificial general intelligence technology.

OpenAI’s artificial general intelligence or AGI –– a tool that is capable of performing human-like cognitive level tasks –– was released in March 2023. It’s called GPT-4. However, OpenAI only allows up to GPT 3.5 models to be used for free. Tools powered by GPT-4 are available under a subscription of $20 a month, which is about Rs 1,650 for users in India. And this is what Musk is voicing against. The Tesla and SpaceX boss says that charging for the AGI tools is against the foundational principle of OpenAI, which was aimed to provide its technology in the interest of humanity and not for commercial profits.

“The internal details of GPT-4 are known only to OpenAI and, on information and belief, to Microsoft. GPT-4 is hence the opposite of Open AI,” Musk said in the lawsuit, according to the Courthouse News Service. “And it is closed for propriety commercial reasons: Microsoft stands to make a fortune selling GPT-4 to the public, which would not be possible if OpenAI—as it is required to do—makes the technology freely available to the public,” the lawsuit further reads.

In his lawsuit, Musk also stresses the 2023 dismissal and later reinstatement of Sam Altman as CEO. Musk alleges that Altman's removal prompted Microsoft to intervene and pressure the board members who initiated his ousting to resign. Musk contends that the present board lacks the scientific and technological understanding of the field previously possessed by scientists and researchers who were supportive of and comprehended the technology.

In recent years, Musk has frequently turned to social media to point out OpenAI's shift towards commercialising AI. A few months ago, Musk took to X to post that “OpenAI was created as an open source (which is why I named it “Open” AI), non-profit company to serve as a counterweight to Google, but now it has become a closed source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft. Not what I intended at all,” he said in the tweet.

Musk’s longstanding critical stance towards OpenAI is particularly intriguing given that only last year, Musk unveiled his own AI firm called xAI, operating as a for-profit entity. Additionally, Musk holds ownership in companies such as Neuralink and Optimus, both of which also focus on artificial intelligence development.

But this story likely goes further back. Based on insights from Walter Isaacson's biography of Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO reportedly proposed merging OpenAI into Tesla, an idea vehemently opposed by Altman and others on the board.

Musk's passion for artificial intelligence led him to create ventures like Neuralink, Optimus, and Dojo, and he was keen on integrating AI technology into Tesla vehicles. This dedication, however, led to strained relations with OpenAI and a subsequent split in 2018. Musk argued for merging OpenAI into Tesla to address concerns about its lagging behind Google. When the OpenAI team resisted, Musk left the organisation, and Altman became CEO.

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Elon Musk vs Sam Altman fight starts as Musk sues OpenAI, says paid ChatGPT is betrayal of original mission

Simultaneously, Musk initiated the establishment of a competing AI team aimed at developing autonomous Tesla vehicles. The book also mentions that Musk recruited computer vision specialist Andrej Karpathy from OpenAI. Ultimately, OpenAI launched a commercial division, which introduced the widely-used chatbot ChatGPT last year.

Source: India Today

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