Microsoft Links Musk Drags ChatGPT-Maker OpenAI To Court

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk has dragged OpenAI, the makers of ChatGPT, to court arguing it has breached the principles he agreed to when he helped found it in 2015.

The lawsuit claims the company has moved away from its initial non-profit, open source goal and has also been filed against Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI.

It claims that rather than attempting to “benefit humanity,” as it was founded to do, it is concentrated on “maximising profits” for a significant shareholder, Microsoft.

Africa Today News, New York reports that the company was founded with the goal of developing artificial general intelligence (AGI), or AI that is capable of carrying out any task that a human being is able of.

It was also set up as a not-for-profit company, meaning it would not aim to make money.

The lawsuit, which has been filed in San Francisco, states it was under these conditions, that Mr Musk agreed to found OpenAI, along with Mr Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman.

He left three years later.

“This case is filed to compel OpenAI to adhere to the Founding Agreement and return to its mission to develop AGI for the benefit of humanity, not to personally benefit the individual Defendants and the largest technology company in the world,” the lawsuit says.

The filing comes after the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that US regulators had begun to probe the ChatGPT creator over whether investors had been misled, following boardroom drama at OpenAI in November 2023.

It saw Mr Altman suddenly ousted from the board, before being reinstated at the helm several days later.

The board at the time accused Mr Altman of not being “consistently candid in his communications”, and said as a result they had “lost confidence” in his leadership.

It was a row Microsoft became deeply embroiled in – including an offer to take on any staff who quit OpenAI.

Mr Musk had said in a post on X – formerly Twitter – that he was “very worried” by the situation.

His lawyers now say in this lawsuit that these “stunning developments” highlight Microsoft’s increased influence over the company.

“Its technology, including GPT-4, is closed-source primarily to serve the proprietary commercial interests of Microsoft,” it says.

Microsoft’s initial $1bn backing of OpenAI in 2019 came shortly after the AI firm – previously operating as a non-profit – announced a new “capped profit” structure which would allow investment in it.

Microsoft’s investment swelled to a multi-year, multi-billion partnership in January 2023 following the launch of OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT.

If OpenAI was founded with that principle at its core, you can see why Mr Musk, and indeed some of the firm’s senior figures, were disgruntled when a few years later it launched a profit-arm.

Indeed there were some whispers around the time that Sam Altman was dramatically fired that the board was concerned about the growing power of the profit-making division.

If this does ever come to court, it could be an epic battle of two tech titans, neither of whom particularly needs a financial win.

It could become a fight between ideology and the real world, or ultimately a battle for supremacy between two men who have extraordinary global influence.

The lawsuit also alleges that details about the design of OpenAI’s most recent AI model, GPT-4, were kept secret.

Africa Today News, New York

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