April 19, 2024


This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

OpenAI publicly fired back at Elon Musk’s lawsuit on Tuesday in a blog post that revealed new details about Musk’s relationship with the company.

“We’re sad that it’s come to this with someone whom we’ve deeply admired — someone who inspired us to aim higher, then told us we would fail, started a competitor, and then sued us when we started making meaningful progress towards OpenAI’s mission without him,” read the blog post, which published a series of internal emails between Musk and OpenAI executives dating between 2015 and 2018.

Lawyers for Musk and representatives for OpenAI did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider.

In his lawsuit filed Friday, Musk accused OpenAI and its leaders of abandoning their open-source principles by partnering with Microsoft. It argued the company’s 2019 pivot to a “capped-profit” division amounts to a breach of its original 2015 contract as a nonprofit.

The Tesla CEO left the board of OpenAI in 2018, but Musk’s lawyers said in the suit he continued to contribute to the company until 2020.

RELATED: Elon Musk Sues ChatGPT-Maker OpenAI, Accuses the Company of Working to ‘Maximize Profits For Microsoft, Rather Than For the Benefit of Humanity’

In the first of the emails published Tuesday by OpenAI, written November of 2015, Musk writes to OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and the company’s president, Greg Brockman, that the company has to seek funding equating to a “much bigger number than $100M to avoid sounding hopeless relative to what Google or Facebook are spending.”

“I think we should say that we are starting with a $1B funding commitment,” Musk wrote. “This is real. I will cover whatever anyone else doesn’t provide.”

The commentary written by Altman, Brockman, and other OpenAI executives in the blog post says that as Musk — who at the time sat on OpenAI’s board — and the rest of the leaders of the company discussed the best financial path forward, it became clear in late 2017 among all involved parties that a for-profit structure was the only way to ensure the company could ensure sufficient funding for its pursuit of the development of artificial general intelligence.

“Elon wanted majority equity, initial board control, and to be CEO. In the middle of these discussions, he withheld funding. Reid Hoffman bridged the gap to cover salaries and operations,” the post reads. “We couldn’t agree to terms on a for-profit with Elon because we felt it was against the mission for any individual to have absolute control over OpenAI. He then suggested instead merging OpenAI into Tesla.”

The post goes on to highlight a February 2018 email chain, forwarded from Musk to Brockman and OpenAI cofounder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, in which an unnamed third party suggests the most promising path forward for OpenAI is to “attach to Tesla as its cash cow.”

In forwarding the email, Musk writes that the unnamed author of the suggestion was “exactly right,” adding: “Tesla is the only path that could even hope to hold a candle to Google. Even then, the probability of being a counterweight to Google is small. It just isn’t zero.”

“Elon soon chose to leave OpenAI, saying that our probability of success was 0, and that he planned to build an AGI competitor within Tesla,” the blog post reads. “When he left in late February 2018, he told our team he was supportive of us finding our own path to raising billions of dollars. In December 2018, Elon sent us an email saying ‘Even raising several hundred million won’t be enough. This needs billions per year immediately or forget it.'”

The recent drama between Musk and Altman, et. al. has unfolded just weeks after OpenAI finalized a deal valuing the company at $80 billion.

Though he has made public jabs at OpenAI several times since leaving, Musk recently doubled down on his public questioning of the legality and ethics of OpenAI’s financial structure, writing in a post on X in mid-February that he was offered shares at “various points, but it seemed unethical/illegal to accept them” and in interviews has claimed that OpenAI “wouldn’t exist without me.”

The Tuesday blog post, which says OpenAI intends to move to dismiss all of Musk’s claims, ends with assurances that, despite Musk’s accusations, OpenAI is “focused on advancing our mission” and has “a long way to go.”

“As we continue to make our tools better and better, we are excited to deploy these systems so they empower every individual.”

Axel Springer, Business Insider’s parent company, has a global deal to allow OpenAI to train its models on its media brands’ reporting.





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