Musk sues OpenAI over Microsoft partnership concerns

Elon Musk sat down.
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Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit against OpenAI, arguing the firm has violated principles established when he was involved in its founding back in 2015.

Musk, a founding board member of OpenAI, has accused its Chief Executive Sam Altman of ‘setting aflame’ OpenAI’s founding agreement of being a non-profit, open source mission, by signing a deal with Microsoft

The lawsuit alleges: “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 maximise profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanity.”

The legal action follows a report by the Wall Street Journal, explaining that US regulators had initiated an investigation into the creator of ChatGPT. This investigation centred around allegations of potential investor deception, prompted by internal conflicts within OpenAI’s boardroom in November 2023.

Altman was abruptly removed from the board of OpenAI, only to be reinstated as the leader shortly thereafter, with the board citing Altman’s alleged lack of transparency in his communications as the reason for their loss of confidence in his leadership.

During the disagreement, Microsoft became increasingly involved, stating that it would offer to take on any staff that quit the AI technology company.

Microsoft initially provided $1bn in support to OpenAI in 2019, shortly after the AI company, previously operating as a non-profit, introduced a “capped profit” structure to facilitate investment. This partnership expanded into a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar collaboration in January 2023.

Musk, who distanced himself from OpenAI in 2018, has expressed concern that Microsoft’s association with the company aims to develop AGI, a concept he has long opposed due to its perceived risk to humanity, saying that it poses “a grave threat to humanity”.

Despite the lawsuit, experts have said that Musk’s argument lacks persuasiveness, and they doubt any significant outcome will arise from it. The billionaire is also set to ask for his money back, from his initial investment, which is also unlikely to happen.

However, the partnership between OpenAI and Microsoft is now being examined by UK, EU and US regulators.