A PYMNTS Company

Elon Musk Files Suit Against OpenAI and CEO Altman

 |  March 1, 2024

Tech mogul Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft-backed OpenAI and its CEO Sam Altman, among others, accusing them of straying from the company’s initial mission to develop artificial intelligence (AI) for the betterment of humanity. The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in a San Francisco court, alleges that OpenAI has transformed into a closed-source subsidiary of Microsoft, prioritizing profit over the original altruistic goals.

According to CNBC, the lawsuit stems from a 2015 agreement between Musk, Altman, and OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman to establish a nonprofit lab dedicated to the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI) for the benefit of humanity. Musk, a co-founder of OpenAI at the time, stepped down from the board in 2018, expressing concerns about the potential dangers of AI.

According to Musk’s legal team, OpenAI has veered off course from its original mission, now serving Microsoft’s profit motives rather than the broader interests of humanity. The lawsuit contends that OpenAI’s actions violate the founding agreement, which explicitly aimed to ensure that AGI serves the greater good.

“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 filing stated.

Both OpenAI and Microsoft have yet to comment on the legal action.

Musk’s lawyers assert that the lawsuit seeks to compel OpenAI to realign with its founding principles and refocus its efforts on developing AGI for the betterment of humanity. The lawsuit marks a clash between two influential figures in the tech industry at a time when AI’s future is under intense scrutiny.

The timing of the lawsuit coincides with the extraordinary rise of AI applications, notably exemplified by OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which debuted in November 2022. ChatGPT quickly gained widespread popularity, becoming the fastest-growing consumer application in history and catalyzing the development of rival chatbots from major tech companies like Google-parent Alphabet and Microsoft.

The legal battle between Musk and OpenAI underscores the growing tensions surrounding AI development and its ethical implications. As the technology continues to advance, questions about its societal impact and governance remain at the forefront of public discourse.