Elon Musk Engages in Legal Battle with OpenAI and CEO Sam Altman as Company Fires Back on Claims

Elon Musk and OpenAI going head to head over the future of AI with Musk accusing OpenAI of abandoning the company’s mission to develop AI for humanitarian purposes.

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It’s a Tussle Between Elon Musk and OpenAI
Image: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Two of the world’s most prominent tech leaders are butting heads over the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Elon Musk is suing Microsoft-backed OpenAI and its CEO, Sam Altman, accusing them of deviating from the company’s original mission to develop artificial intelligence “for the benefit of humanity broadly.” 

The lawsuit, filed in a San Francisco court, claims that OpenAI has transformed into a “closed-source de facto subsidiary” of Microsoft, focusing on maximizing profits for the tech giant rather than prioritizing the intended purpose. Musk’s lawyers, in the lawsuit, highlighted the shift from OpenAI’s charter, stating,

“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.”

OpenAI executives responded to Musk’s claims in an internal memo, suggesting that Musk’s actions likely “stem from Elon’s regrets about not being involved with the company today.” Jason Kwon, Chief Strategy Officer at OpenAI, expressed disappointment over Musk’s legal action, emphasizing that OpenAI remains dedicated to ensuring AGI benefits humanity.

The legal dispute arises from a 2015 agreement where Musk, a co-founder of OpenAI, agreed to form a nonprofit lab for developing artificial general intelligence (AGI). Musk stepped down from OpenAI’s board in 2018 but remained a significant contributor, investing over $44 million from 2016 to 2020.

Musk alleges that OpenAI, backed by Microsoft, and CEO Sam Altman, among others, deviated from the company’s initial mission. OpenAI has gained significant attention, with a reported valuation exceeding $80 billion, especially after the release of the ChatGPT chatbot in late 2022.

While Musk contributed significantly to OpenAI from 2016 through September 2020, the lawsuit claims he was not involved in decision-making. Kwon did not dispute Musk’s early role but mentioned disagreements, stating, “We did not think either approach was right for the mission.”

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