Elon Musk Sues Sam Altman and OpenAI for Putting Profits Before Humanity

    Elon Musk filed a lawsuit against OpenAI on Thursday, alleging that the artificial intelligence research company has strayed from its original commitment to developing technology for the benefit of humanity, prioritizing profits instead. The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, makes several claims, including breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and unfair business practices.

    The core of the dispute centers around OpenAI’s recent partnership with Microsoft. Musk contends that this collaboration has compromised OpenAI’s dedication to open-source artificial general intelligence (AGI), transforming it into a “closed-source de facto subsidiary” of Microsoft. He argues that OpenAI, under its current leadership, is now focused on refining AGI to maximize profits for Microsoft rather than for the greater good.

    The lawsuit specifically mentions OpenAI’s GPT-4 model, released in March 2023. According to Musk, this remains a closed model unlike previous iterations, a decision he attributes to commercial interests rather than ethical considerations. He further claims that only OpenAI and possibly Microsoft possess the internal details of GPT-4, making it the opposite of “open AI.” He argues that Microsoft could potentially profit significantly by selling this technology if it remains closed, whereas open-sourcing it, as originally intended, wouldn’t allow such financial gain.

    Read More: US SEC Investigates OpenAI For Potential Investor Mislead

    Musk also highlights the 2023 situation where OpenAI CEO Sam Altman was fired and then reinstated. He claims that Altman’s removal prompted Microsoft to intervene and force the resignation of board members who sought his removal. This, according to the lawsuit, resulted in a new board lacking the scientific and research expertise necessary to understand and support the technology.

    The lawsuit additionally points out that OpenAI’s previously non-profit structure has been replaced by a profit-driven approach led by a CEO and board allegedly lacking sufficient technical expertise in AGI and AI public policy. Notably, the suit mentions that the current board even includes an observer seat reserved solely for Microsoft.

    While Musk left the OpenAI board in 2018, he was an original member. He expresses concerns in the lawsuit regarding disagreements between the board and Altman stemming from the development of GPT-4 and potential future iterations of AGI technology. He worries these advancements could pose a threat to public safety.

    It is important to note that neither OpenAI nor Musk have commented publicly on the lawsuit at this time. Microsoft, although not directly named as a defendant, holds an exclusive license to OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model and claims rights to GPT-4, which they argue doesn’t yet qualify as AGI and therefore wouldn’t fall under their licensing limitations. Musk, however, believes Microsoft’s influence over Altman and the OpenAI board could prevent them from declaring GPT-4 as AGI, thereby keeping the technology private and commercially viable.

    This lawsuit signifies a significant development in the ongoing debate surrounding the ethical considerations and potential risks associated with artificial intelligence advancements. It remains to be seen how the legal proceedings will unfold and what impact it might have on OpenAI’s future direction and the broader landscape of AI research and development.

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