Why Europe Must End Its 30-Year Digital Winter to Ensure Its Long-Run Future

Musk Sues OpenAI for Prioritizing Profits Over Humanity

Elon Musk is suing OpenAI, supported by Microsoft, and its CEO, Sam Altman, accusing the company of deviating from the group’s mission to develop artificial intelligence that benefits humanity as a whole.

Musk’s attorneys filed a lawsuit Thursday (Feb. 29) in San Francisco, stating that in 2015, Altman and Greg Brockman, co-founders of OpenAI, asked Musk to help create a nonprofit dedicated to developing artificial general intelligence to benefit humanity.

Musk, who helped start OpenAI in 2015, left the board in 2018. He had previously warned in 2014 about the dangers of AI, suggesting it could be more dangerous than nuclear weapons.

“To this day, OpenAI, Inc.’s website continues to profess that its charter is to ensure that AGI ‘benefits all of humanity,’” the lawsuit said. “In reality, however, OpenAI, Inc. has been transformed into a closed-source de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft.”

Last year, Musk started putting together a team to develop an AI to rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

OpenAI has not responded to PYMNTS’ request for comment.

In the lawsuit, Musk’s legal team argued that OpenAI prioritizing profit for Microsoft goes against their initial agreement.

“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 filing said.

The lawsuit said that Altman agreed with Musk’s worries about advanced AI, and in 2015, they decided to start a nonprofit AI research center, meant to be different from Google, which is now called OpenAI. Brockman, who works as the president of OpenAI and is also being sued by Musk, helped them agree to set up this center with specific rules from the start.

The lab was intended to operate for humanity’s benefit as a nonprofit organization and would embrace open-source practices, meaning its technology would be freely accessible.

The lawsuit highlighted that Musk, who distanced himself from OpenAI in 2018, played a pivotal role in founding OpenAI and was its primary financier during the initial phase. Following a 2020 agreement, Microsoft has since become the largest investor in the company.

Musk’s suit accused OpenAI and its leaders, Altman and Brockman, of ignoring their original promises in 2023 when they released GPT-4, the technology behind the ChatGPT chatbot, and kept its design a secret. This move, the lawsuit claimed, shows they’ve strayed from their initial mission to be open and serve humanity.

“[T]his secrecy is primarily driven by commercial considerations, not safety,” said the lawsuit, which claimed breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and unfair business practices.”

For all PYMNTS AI coverage, subscribe to the daily AI Newsletter.