Elon Musk Sues OpenAI, CEO Sam Altman Over Microsoft Link
Elon Musk Sues OpenAI, CEO Sam Altman Over Microsoft Link

By Tom Ozimek

Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and its co-founders, alleging that they violated the company’s founding agreement by developing artificial intelligence (AI) for profit rather than advancing it for the good of humanity.

Mr. Musk, who was an original board member of OpenAI but left in 2018, said in his complaint that the defendants—OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and president Gregory Brockman—broke their pledge to develop AI “for the benefit of humanity” and are instead pursuing profit and power.

The lawsuit, filed late on Feb. 29 in San Francisco, alleged a breach of contract, arguing that Mr. Altman and Mr. Brockman initially joined forces with Mr. Musk to launch OpenAI as an open-source, non-profit company.

Mr. Musk said the founding agreement required that OpenAI make its technology, such as the AI chatbot GPT-4 that the company developed, “freely available” to the public. However, Mr. Musk says that OpenAI has shifted its approach to being profit-focused after aligning itself with Microsoft, which has invested around $13 billion in the startup.

“Contrary to the Founding Agreement, Defendants have chosen to use GPT-4 not for the benefit of humanity, but as proprietary technology to maximize profits for literally the largest company in the world,” Mr. Musk wrote in the complaint, referring to Microsoft.

Vast Power ‘Unduly Concentrated’

In the lawsuit, Mr. Musk argues that OpenAI’s GPT-4 constitutes artificial general intelligence (AGI), which is an AI whose intelligence is so advanced that it is on par with, or surpasses, that of humans.

“OpenAI, Inc. has been transformed into a closed-source de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft,” Mr. Musk continued. “Under its new board, it is not just developing but is actually refining an AGI [artificial general intelligence] to maximize profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanity.”

Mr. Musk’s lawsuit also hones in on the 2023 firing and subsequent reinstatement of Mr. Altman as the chief executive. He argues that Mr. Altman’s temporary departure prompted Microsoft to step in and push for the resignation of board members who tried to oust him, leading to a restructuring that changed the face of the company.

“With the reinstatement of Mr. Altman and the restructuring of the board, OpenAI’s corporate structure that had been designed as a system of checks and balances between the non-profit arm, for-profit arm, the board, and the CEO to ensure the non-profit mission [that] was being carried out, collapsed overnight,” he wrote in the suit.

Mr. Musk alleged that the current board members are no longer scientists who have a deep understanding of the technology.

“With this restructuring, OpenAI, Inc. abandoned its non-profit mission of developing AGI for the benefit of humanity broadly, thereby keeping it in the hands of a large for-profit corporation in which vast power would be unduly concentrated,” he argued.

Mr. Musk has on several occasions criticized the company’s ties with Microsoft.

The tech entrepreneur has called AI a “double-edged sword” and has warned about its dangers to humanity.

OpenAI did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

AI Threat

Last year, Mr. Musk joined more than 1,100 individuals, including experts and industry executives such as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, in signing an open letter calling on all artificial intelligence labs to pause training of systems more powerful than Chat GPT-4 for at least six months.

The letter doesn’t call for a halt to AI development in general, just the most advanced systems in what Mr. Musk and the other experts described as an act of “merely a stepping back from the dangerous race to ever-larger unpredictable black-box models with emergent capabilities.”

Mr. Musk, along with other signatories of the letter, cited concerns over AI’s possible “risks to society and humanity.”

Signatories of the letter warned that AI systems with human-competitive intelligence could pose “profound risks to society and humanity” and should be planned for and managed carefully to avoid potentially “catastrophic” impacts on the world and its people.

“Having succeeded in creating powerful AI systems, we can now enjoy an ‘AI summer’ in which we reap the rewards, engineer these systems for the clear benefit of all, and give society a chance to adapt,” the experts said.

“Society has hit pause on other technologies with potentially catastrophic effects on society. We can do so here. Let’s enjoy a long AI summer, not rush unprepared into a fall,” they argued.

They called for AI labs and independent experts to use the six-month moratorium to develop and implement a set of safety protocols for advanced AI design that would ensure that these systems are “safe beyond a reasonable doubt.”

USNN World News (USNN) USNN World News Corporation is a media company consisting of a series of sites specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information, local,...