OpenAI says Elon Musk agreed ChatGPT maker should become for-profit

OpenAI has hit back at accusations from Elon Musk that the ChatGPT maker betrayed its founding goals of benefiting humanity and chose to pursue profits, and vowed to have his lawsuit thrown out.

The first comments from OpenAI since the Tesla chief executive began legal action last week have escalated the feud between the San Francisco-based artificial intelligence company and the billionaire that bankrolled its creation years ago.

In a blog post from five company leaders, including chief executive Sam Altman, OpenAI said: “The mission of OpenAI is to ensure AGI benefits all of humanity, which means both building safe and beneficial AGI and helping create broadly distributed benefits.

“We intend to move to dismiss all of Elon’s claims.”

AGI refers to artificial general intelligence, which are general purpose AI systems that can perform just as well as – or even better than – humans in a wide variety of tasks.

Mr Musk’s lawsuit said that when he funded OpenAI as it was launching, he secured an agreement that the company would remain a non-profit developing technology for the benefit of the public.

Sam Altman
OpenAI chief Sam Altman hit back at the claims (AP)

OpenAI said both the start-up and Mr Musk recognised the need for the company to become a for-profit entity, posting screenshots of emails between the Tesla chief executive and OpenAI leaders in which they discuss the possibility but cannot agree on terms.

“Change your name,” Mr Musk replied Wednesday on X, the social media platform he owns that was formerly known as Twitter.

He also posted a “laughing” emoji in response to a user who tweeted that OpenAI should be renamed OpenEmail.

Mr Musk was an early investor in OpenAI when it was founded in 2015 and co-chaired its board alongside Mr Altman. He said in his lawsuit that he invested “tens of millions” of dollars in OpenAI.

However, the company said that while Mr Musk invested less than 45 million dollars (£35.4 million), it has raised more than 90 million dollars (£70.8 million) from other donors.

OpenAI said that by 2017, the company leaders started to realise that building artificial general
intelligence would take vast amounts of computing power.

It said: “We all understood we were going to need a lot more capital to succeed at our mission – billions of dollars per year, which was far more than any of us, especially Elon, thought we’d be able to raise as the non-profit.”

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