On February 29, Elon Musk filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and its CEO Sam Altman. The main charge was that the company breached its founding agreement with Musk, who co-founded the AI ​​firm, by entering into a partnership with Microsoft and operating as its “de facto closed-source subsidiary”, intending to maximize profits . This, according to the billionaire, contradicts the commitment made to operate as a non-profit organization and to keep the project open source.

The court trial has been filed in court in San Francisco, and the first hearing is yet to come. Meanwhile, OpenAI on Wednesday hit back at the allegations by posting extensive post containing email correspondence with Musk dating back to 2015, and said it would move to “reject all of Elon’s claims.”

OpenAI claims that Musk wanted OpenAI to merge with Tesla or take full control of the organization himself. “We couldn’t agree to the terms of the win with Elon because we felt it was against the mission for any individual to have absolute control over OpenAI,” said the post, which was authored by OpenAI co-founders Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutzkever, John Shulman , Sam Altman and Wojciech Zaremba. The publication also indicated through email interactions that the billionaire wanted OpenAI to “tether to Tesla as its cash cow.” That contradicts Musk’s intentions to keep the AI ​​firm nonprofit, if true.

Another email written by Sutskever reads: “As we get closer to building AI, it would make sense to start being less open. Open in openAI means everyone should benefit from the fruits of AI once it’s built, but it’s perfectly OK not to share the science,” to which Musk replied, “Yes.” That email would directly contradict Musk’s claim that the AI ​​firm is moving to closed source.

A report from The Verge states, based on court documents, that the founder’s agreement is not a contract or binding agreement that can be broken. As such, Musk’s accusations against OpenAI could potentially be invalidated.

“We’re sorry it came to this with someone we deeply admire – someone who inspired us to aim higher, then told us we’d fail, started a competitor, and then judged us when we started to we’re making significant progress toward the OpenAI mission without him,” the statement said.

One thing OpenAI’s revenge proves is that the rivalry between the two sides is not recent. It goes all the way to 2015. For those not fully familiar with the two’s story, here is the series of events that connect the dots and make sense of this unfolding saga.

Elon Musk vs. OpenAI: Timeline of the decade-long rivalry

Those who follow Musk at X or are active enthusiasts of the controversies in the tech space are no strangers to the antics of the world’s second-richest man (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos overtook he first place on Tuesday). The Tesla CEO is known for his unfiltered social media posts, interviews and impulsive decision-making. From buying X after creating a social media post to rebranding the entire platform in a week and from responding to an anti-Semite post to throwing rants at Disney CEO Bob Iger for boycotting advertising on the platform (among many others) and blaming them for killing the platform, the list is pretty long.

But these antics are not new. In 2015, Musk co-founded OpenAI with Altman, president and chairman Greg Brockman, and several others. Musk was also the largest investor in the company, which devoted itself to the development of artificial intelligence, according to report from TechCrunch. However, to everyone’s surprise, the billionaire resigned from his seat on the board of directors in 2018.

The beginning of the feud

The reason for Musk’s resignation depends on who you ask. X’s owner cited “potential future conflict [of interest]” as his role as CEO of Tesla, as the electric vehicle giant also develops AI for its self-driving cars. Still a traffic light report said, citing unnamed sources, that Altman believed the billionaire thought OpenAI was lagging behind other players like Google and instead offered to take over the company himself, which was promptly rejected by the board and led to his departure. OpenAI has now confirmed this.

The exit, however, was only the beginning. Just a year later, OpenAI announced that he is setting up a for-profit company to fulfill his ambitious goals and pay dues. That same year, Microsoft invested $1 billion in AI firm after finalizing multi-year partnership. It was also the same year it was GPT-2 announced and caused a lot of buzz online.

The events were interesting because not only was the company moving in the opposite direction of what Musk philosophized about, but the company also witnessed unprecedented success – both financially and technologically, which is something the billionaire is reportedly not. thought possible.

Arrival of ChatGPT

However, nothing more was heard from either side on the subject until 2022. In November 2022, ChatGPT, the AI-powered chatbot that arguably started the AI ​​arms race, was released by OpenAI. The silence was soon broken by Musk. Answering a post when a user asked the chatbot to write a tweet in his style, it claimed that OpenAI had access to X’s training database and turned it off. It was also the first time Musk publicly said, “OpenAI was launched as open source and non-profit. Neither is true yet.

The billionaire didn’t stop there. In 2023, he repeatedly shot at the company. In February he claimed that OpenAI was designed to be open source, and that’s why Musk called it OpenAI. He added: “But now it has become a closed-source, profit-maximizing company effectively controlled by Microsoft.”

Again in March 2023 he published, “I’m still confused how a non-profit I donated ~$100M to somehow turned into a $30B market cap for profit. If it’s legal, why isn’t everyone doing it?” Interestingly, the accusations in these three posts are also the main allegations made in the lawsuit.

And that brings us to the present as we wait for the trial to begin. The lawsuit will also mark the beginning of the culmination of the Elon Musk vs. OpenAI saga, which has been nearly a decade in the making. To the casual viewer, this may simply be a corporate feud between two interested parties, but closer inspection reveals that it is much bigger than that. On the one hand is the serial entrepreneur known for repeated success and a strong (sometimes dogmatic) philosophical view of technology; and on the other is the organization hailed as a pioneer of generative AI technology, which may be on the verge of developing artificial general intelligence. Whichever way the case goes, it could potentially change the course of AI as well.