OpenAI says Musk only ever contributed $45 million, wanted to merge with Tesla or take control


OpenAI, the most valuable AI startup, said Wednesday it intends to dismiss all claims made by Elon Musk in a recent lawsuit and suggested that the billionaire entrepreneur, who was involved in the company’s co-founding, didn’t really have that much impact on its development and success.

In a blog post authored by the entire OpenAI band – Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, John Schulman, Sam Altman, Wojciech Zaremba and OpenAI – the startup revealed that since its inception in 2015, it had raised less than $45 million from Musk, despite his initial commitment to provide as much as $1 billion in funding. The organization also secured more than $90 million from other donors to support its research efforts.

OpenAI’s response follows Musk suing Altman, Brockman, OpenAI and other affiliates of the firm last week, alleging the ChatGPT-maker had breached its original contractual agreements by pursuing profits instead of the nonprofit’s founding mission to develop AI that benefits humanity. Musk said the founding agreement required OpenAI to make its technology “freely available” to the public and that the firm had overtime changed its mission statement to maximizing profits for Microsoft.

As OpenAI realized the immense computational resources required to build artificial general intelligence — an AI whose intelligence is at par, if not higher, than humans — estimated to cost billions of dollars annually, the need for a for-profit entity became apparent, today’s blog post asserted.

This is when disagreements started between Musk and other co-founders of Tesla, OpenAI wrote in the blog post, which includes five email exchanges between Musk and OpenAI executives. “As we discussed a for-profit structure in order to further the mission, Elon wanted us to merge with Tesla or he wanted full control. Elon left OpenAI, saying there needed to be a relevant competitor to Google/DeepMind and that he was going to do it himself. He said he’d be supportive of us finding our own path.”

OpenAI said Wednesday it maintains that its mission is to ensure AGI benefits all of humanity, which includes developing safe and beneficial AGI while promoting widespread access to its tools. The startup cited how its tool is being used in places including Kenya and India to empower people and improve their daily lives.

“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,” OpenAI wrote in the blog post.

In response to Musk’s accusation of OpenAI abandoning its open-source principles, the Microsoft-backed startup countered by emphasizing that Musk had been aware of and agreed to the eventual shift away from complete transparency as the organization made significant progress in its AGI development.

“Elon understood the mission did not imply open-sourcing AGI. As Ilya told Elon: ‘As we get closer to building AI, it will make sense to start being less open. The Open in openAI means that everyone should benefit from the fruits of AI after its built, but it’s totally OK to not share the science…’, to which Elon replied: ‘Yup’.”


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