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Elon Musk claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday evening in the San Francisco Superior Court that ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and its chief executive Sam Altman, among others, have breached the artificial intelligence startup’s founding agreement that puts humanity over profits. 

“These events of 2023 constitute flagrant breaches of the Founding Agreement, which Defendants have essentially turned on its head. To this day, OpenAI, Inc.’s website continues to profess that its charter is to ensure that AGI [artificial general intelligence technology] “benefits all of humanity,”” the lawsuit reads. 

It continues: “In reality, however, OpenAI, Inc. has been transformed into a closed-source de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft. 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.”

Besides breach of contract, Musk argues that OpenAI also violates fiduciary duty and unfair business practices and asks the startup to revert to an open source model to better humanity. The billionaire requests an injunction to prevent OpenAI, Altman, and or president Gregory Brockman – as well as Microsoft – from profiting off the startup’s AI products. 

Musk alleges that Altman, Brockman, and Microsoft conspired together to remove the startup’s board members, who were tasked with upholding its foundational mission.

“Mr. Altman hand-picked a new Board that lacks similar technical expertise or any substantial background in AI governance, which the previous board had by design,” the lawsuit said, adding, “The new Board consisted of members with more experience in profit-centric enterprises or politics than in AI ethics and governance. They were also reportedly ‘big fans of Altman.'”

According to Musk, OpenAI’s GPT-4 model, released one year ago, remains a closed model. And he said this is due mainly to commercial considerations instead of the interest of humanity.

“The internal details of GPT-4 are known only to OpenAI and, on information and belief, to Microsoft. GPT-4 is hence the opposite of ‘open AI … And it is closed for propriety commercial reasons: Microsoft stands to make a fortune selling GPT-4 to the public, which would not be possible if OpenAI—as it is required to do—makes the technology freely available to the public,” Musk said. 

He adds: “Contrary to the Founding Agreement, Defendants have chosen to use GPT-4 not for the benefit of humanity, but as proprietary technology to maximize profits for literally the largest company in the world.” 

Musk, an original board member of OpenAI, departed in 2018. In 2015, he co-founded the startup. 

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Read the full lawsuit here:

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