Elon Musk is suing ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and its chief executive Sam Altman, among others, saying they had abandoned the company’s original founding mission to develop open-source artificial general intelligence technology for the benefit of humanity over profits.

The lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in San Francisco, says that Altman and OpenAI’s co-founder Greg Brockman originally approached Musk to make an open-source, non-profit company and that the company’s shift to making money breached that contract. Musk co-founded OpenAI in 2015 but stepped down from its board in 2018.

“OpenAI, Inc. has been transformed into a closed-source de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft. Under its new board, it is not just developing but is actually refining an AGI to maximize profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanity,” the lawsuit viewed by FOX Business states.

Elon Musk is suing ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and Sam Altman, saying they have abandoned the company’s original founding mission to develop open-source AI technology for the benefit of humanity over profits. (Nathan Laine/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Musk also claims breach of fiduciary duty and unfair business practices against OpenAI and asks for the company to revert to open source.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO requested an injunction to prevent Altman, OpenAI and its president, Gregory Brockman, as well as Microsoft, from profiting off of the company’s artificial general intelligence technology.

The suit added that the company had kept the design of GPT-4, its most advanced AI model, “a complete secret.” 

“There are no scientific publications describing the design of GPT-4. Instead, there are just press releases bragging about performance. On information and belief, this secrecy is primarily driven by commercial considerations, not safety.”

“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,’” the lawsuit argues.

“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.”

Screens display the logos of OpenAI and ChatGPT. (LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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“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,” he added.

Altman was fired by OpenAI’s former board last year and then returned a few days later. Musk argues that Altman’s ouster prompted Microsoft to force the resignation of the board members who had removed him and that the current board members are no longer scientists and researchers that support and understand the technology.

“OpenAI, Inc.’s once carefully crafted non-profit structure was replaced by a purely profit-driven CEO and a Board with inferior technical expertise in AGI and AI public policy. The board now has an observer seat reserved solely for Microsoft,” Musk claims.

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, during a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. Elon Musk argues in a lawsuit that Altman and OpenAI have betrayed a founding agreement to develop the technology for the (Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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OpenAI is planning to appoint several new board members this month, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

ChatGPT, the chatbot from OpenAI, became the fastest-growing software application in the world within six months of its launch in November 2022. It also sparked the launch of rival chatbots from Microsoft, Alphabet and a bevy of startups that tapped the hype to secure billions in funding.

Since its debut, ChatGPT has been adopted by companies for a wide range of tasks from summarizing documents to writing computer code, setting off a race among Big Tech companies to launch their own offerings based on generative AI.

Reuters contributed to this report. 



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