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Elon Musk sues OpenAI for 'perverting' its nonprofit mission

According to the lawsuit, it was originally agreed that OpenAI would be run as an open-source nonprofit for pubic benefit.
Posted at 10:32 PM, Mar 01, 2024

Elon Musk sued OpenAI and company CEO Sam Altman on Friday, alleging the company has betrayed its originally stated goal of using AI technology to benefit humanity.

According to the lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, Musk, Altman and company president Greg Brockman had agreed that OpenAI would be run as a nonprofit for pubic benefit.

OpenAI had also agreed to make its code open source, the lawsuit claims.

But in the suit, Musk alleges that by patterning with Microsoft, OpenAI has become a "closed-source de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world" that seeks "to maximize profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanity."

The lawsuit claims breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and unfair business practices.

Musk helped fund OpenAI in its early years, contributing what he says was "tens of millions of dollars." He also served on the company board starting in 2015.

Musk resigned that post in 2018, when Tesla started hiring more AI experts for its autonomous driving goals. 

Microsoft committed a $1 billion investment to the company in 2019. It signed an agreement with OpenAI that gave it exclusive rights to AI products it created. That license is expected to expire if and when OpenAI ever achieves artificial general intelligence.

Tech companies sign pact to fight against AI election disruption
The OpenAI logo displayed in front of AI-generated artwork

Tech companies sign pact to fight against AI election disruption

Adobe, Amazon, Google, IBM, Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI, TikTok and X adopted new policies for handling election-related AI fakes.


OpenAI's nonprofit board fired Altman late in 2023, kicking off a firestorm of speculation and attention in the AI space.

Microsoft would later help Altman come back as OpenAI's CEO, along with a new initial board of directors. Details around his firing and re-hiring, and around the replacement of OpenAI's board, remain murky.