Tuesday, May 21, 2024

OpenAI Fires Back At Elon Musk’s Lawsuit Over Control and Mission

In the rapidly unfolding saga between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and AI research lab OpenAI, the latter has shared its version of events, denying Musk’s recent allegations of a breach of contract. 

The AI giant has revealed that at one point, Musk sought “absolute control” of the company through a merger with Tesla.

Defending Against Musk’s Claims

Elon Musk
Credits: DepositPhotos

Musk’s lawsuit incited public interest when he suggested that OpenAI had forsaken its non-profit mission, accusing the company of becoming a “closed-source de facto subsidiary” of Microsoft. 

However, OpenAI co-founders Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, John Schulman, Sam Altman, and Wojciech Zaremba stood united claiming that they could not vouchsafe the mission of OpenAI by allowing an individual absolute control over it.

In a recent blog post, the team stated, “As we discussed a for-profit structure in order to further the mission, Elon wanted us to merge with Tesla or he wanted full control, which included majority equity, initial board control and to be CEO. 

We couldn’t agree to terms on a for-profit basis with Elon because it was against the mission for any individual to have absolute control over OpenAI.” These counterclaims challenge Musk’s portrayal of the events leading up to his legal action.

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The Mission Versus Open-Sourcing AGI

Musk’s lawsuit raises questions about the very essence of OpenAI’s mission. He alleges that the company sacrificed societal benefits in favor of profit, abandoning its original, open-source objective. 

Yet, OpenAI defended its decision not to open-source its work, citing that the original mission did not necessarily warrant universal sharing of AGI—artificial general intelligence.

An email conversation from January 2016 between Musk and Sutskever points to a mutual understanding of this. 

Sutskever wrote, “as we get closer to building AI, it will make sense to start being less open,” to which Musk responded: “Yup.” This throws an intriguing spin to the narrative and shows a changing approach to AI development.

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Addressing the GPT-4 Concerns

Credits: DepositPhotos

Musk’s lawsuit also states that GPT-4, a product developed by OpenAI, is “a de facto Microsoft proprietary algorithm.” The AI company, in its blog post, refrained from engaging this allegation directly. Prior to the public post, OpenAI had dismissed these claims to its staff via an internal memo.


The curtain has only just risen on this fascinating legal drama, and as the plot thickens, the world will be watching closely. A tug-of-war over control, allegations of betraying original missions and discussions around proprietary technology have underlined yet another chapter in the history of technology disruptors. 

The future course of this saga could have far-reaching implications for the ethics and development of AI.

In the meantime, it is essential to remember that OpenAI’s mission is far from small; the stakes are high and the outcomes not just vital for the parties involved, but for the broader technology landscape as well. 

This story serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between protecting tech advancements and ensuring they serve the betterment of humankind.

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