Elon Musk is suing OpenAI, its CEO Sam Altman, as well as others, accusing them of violating contractual commitments established during the company’s inception in 2015, when he helped to found the company in 2015.

The legal action initiated by the Tesla CEO also includes OpenAI’s co-founder Greg Brockman. The suit states that Brockman, alongside Altman, initially engaged Musk with the proposition of creating an open-source, nonprofit entity aimed at advancing artificial intelligence technology for the “benefit of humanity.” Musk co-founded OpenAI in 2015 but stepped down from the company’s board in 2018.

The lawsuit contends that the Microsoft-backed company’s shift towards profit-oriented objectives goes against the original agreement. It highlights that Musk believed that this pivot was an “existential threat in AGI.”

Lawyers representing Musk stated that “Mr. Altman approached Mr. Musk with a proposal: that they join forces to form a non-profit AI lab that would try to catch up to Google in the race for AGI, but it would be the opposite of Google.”

Together with Brockman, the lawsuit added that they reached a consensus on the foundational ethos of the new AI lab. According to this agreement, OpenAI “would be a nonprofit developing AGI for the benefit of humanity, not for a for-profit company seeking to maximize shareholder profits; and (b) would be open-source, balancing only countervailing safety considerations, and would not keep its technology closed and secret for proprietary commercial reasons.” 

The organization was reportedly created to stand as a counterbalance to Google’s DeepMind project. However, unlike its counterparts, OpenAI’s mission was to advance the cause of humanity, steering clear of the profit-driven motives that typically underpin private, for-profit entities.

Elon Musk competes with OpenAI

In January, the billionaire entrepreneur‘s artificial intelligence start-up xAI was in talks to “raise up to $6 billion.” xAI made headlines in 2023 when “Grok,” a chatbot positioned as an adversary to OpenAI‘s ChatGPT, was introduced.

Another company known as Groq trademarked its name during its fledgling stage in 2016, so it’s no surprise they sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Tesla billionaire over his decision to title his firm with such a similar name.

Featured image: Canva / U.S. Air Force / Trevor Cokley / TechCrunch

Suswati Basu

Freelance journalist

Suswati Basu is a multilingual, award-winning editor and the founder of the intersectional literature channel, How To Be Books. She was shortlisted for the Guardian Mary Stott Prize and longlisted for the Guardian International Development Journalism Award.

With 18 years of experience in the media industry, Suswati has held significant roles such as head of audience and deputy editor for NationalWorld news, digital editor for Channel 4 News
and ITV News. She has also contributed to the Guardian and received training at the BBC As an audience, trends, and SEO specialist, she has participated in panel events alongside Google.

Her career also includes a seven-year tenure at the leading AI company Dataminr, where she led the Europe desk and launched the company’s first employee resource group for disabilities. Before this, Suswati worked as a journalist in China for four years, investigating censorship and the Great Firewall, and acquired proficiency in several languages.

In recent years, Suswati has been nominated for six awards, including the Independent Podcast Awards, International Women’s Podcast Awards, and the Anthem Awards for her literary social affairs show.

Her areas of speciality span a wide range, including technology, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), social politics, mental health, and nonfiction books.

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