Elon Musk Withdraws His Lawsuit Against OpenAI and Sam Altman

The Tesla chief executive had claimed that the A.I. start-up put profits and commercial interests ahead of benefiting humanity.

Elon Musk, wearing a dark suit, walks out of a building while surrounded by men and women.
Mr. Musk founded his own artificial intelligence company last year called xAI, and has repeatedly claimed that OpenAI was not focused enough on the dangers of the technology.Credit…Firdia Lisnawati/Associated Press

Cade Metz

Elon Musk withdrew his lawsuit on Tuesday against OpenAI, the maker of the online chatbot ChatGPT, a day before a state judge in San Francisco was set to consider whether it should be dismissed.

The suit, filed in February, had accused the artificial intelligence start-up and two of its founders, Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, of breaching OpenAI’s founding contract by prioritizing commercial interests over the public good.

A multibillion-dollar partnership that OpenAI signed with Microsoft, Mr. Musk’s suit claimed, represented an abandonment of the company’s pledge to carefully develop A.I. and make the technology publicly available.

Mr. Musk had argued that the founding contract said that the organization should instead be focused on building artificial general intelligence, or A.G.I., a machine that can do anything the brain can do, for the benefit of humanity.

OpenAI, based in San Francisco, had called for a dismissal days after Mr. Musk filed the suit. He could still refile the suit in California or another state.


Mr. Musk filed his suit weeks after members of the OpenAI board unexpectedly fired Sam Altman, above, an OpenAI co-founder. Mr. Altman returned to the company five days after he was pushed out.Credit…Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

OpenAI and Mr. Musk did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Musk helped found OpenAI in 2015 along with Mr. Altman, Mr. Brockman and several young A.I. researchers. He saw the research lab as a response to A.I. work being done at the time by Google. Mr. Musk believed Google and its co-founder, Larry Page, were not appropriately concerned with the risks that A.I. presented to humanity.

Mr. Musk parted ways with OpenAI after a power struggle in 2018. The company later become an A.I. technology leader, creating ChatGPT, a chatbot that can generate text and answer questions in humanlike prose.

Mr. Musk founded his own A.I. company last year called xAI, while repeatedly claiming that OpenAI was not focused enough on the dangers of the technology.

He filed his lawsuit weeks after members of the OpenAI board unexpectedly fired Mr. Altman, saying he could no longer be trusted with the company’s mission to build A.I. for the good of humanity. Mr. Altman was reinstated after five days of negotiations with the board, and soon cemented his control over the company, reclaiming a seat on the board.

Late last month, OpenAI announced that it had started working on a new artificial intelligence model that would succeed the GPT-4 technology that drives ChatGPT. The company said that it expected the new model to bring “the next level of capabilities” as it strove to build A.G.I.

The company also said it was creating a new Safety and Security Committee to explore how it should handle the risks posed by the new model and future technologies.

Cade Metz writes about artificial intelligence, driverless cars, robotics, virtual reality and other emerging areas of technology. More about Cade Metz

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