OpenAI rebuts Musk’s ‘fictional’ claims over Founding Agreement

In a strongly worded reply to Elon Musk, OpenAI has described the claims of the X-owner as fictitious, accusing him of attempting to take credit for the “remarkable technological advances” achieved by OpenAI.

Musk’s earlier filing at the San Francisco State Court claimed that Open AI had entered into a Founding Agreement stating that it would be open-source and would not keep its technology closed and secret for proprietary commercial reasons.

In its latest filing, the ChatGPT owner alleged that the Founding Agreement is “a fiction Musk has conjured to lay unearned claim to the fruits of an enterprise he initially supported, then abandoned, then watched succeed without him.”

“The relief Musk seeks is as extraordinary as his claims are contrived,” Open AI said in its court filing. “Musk requests an order compelling OpenAI to reorganize and distribute its technology in accordance with the terms of his fictitious contract.  And he wants a “judicial determination”—with an accompanying mandatory injunction—that certain OpenAI technology “constitutes Artificial General Intelligence,” i.e., “having intelligence for a wide variety of tasks like a human” (when it does not).”

The dispute between OpenAI and Elon Musk, one of its early benefactors, has intensified lately, with both sides exchanging accusations of impropriety. At the heart of the disagreement is Musk’s claim that OpenAI, which was initially set up as a non-profit, has transitioned into a for-profit entity.

‘Elon wanted us to merge with Tesla’

A dramatic development in the ongoing dispute has been OpenAI’s claim that Elon Musk proposed a merger with Tesla. According to a recent blog post by OpenAI, discussions in late 2017 between the company and Musk concluded that forming a for-profit entity was the next strategic move. Musk reportedly sought majority equity, initial board control, and the CEO position.

“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,” the blog post said. “He then suggested instead merging OpenAI into Tesla.”

In early February 2018, Elon Musk allegedly sent an email proposing that OpenAI should become financially dependent on Tesla, describing it as its “cash cow,” adding that aligning with Tesla was the sole strategy that might rival Google, albeit with slim chances.

Broader implications and what lies ahead

The dispute between Musk and OpenAI is starting to have significant repercussions within the AI community, indicating a growing concern among stakeholders about the potential impact of the conflict. A Bloomberg report quoted Vinod Khosla, a billionaire venture capitalist and investor in OpenAI, stating that Musk cannot litigate his way to achieving artificial general intelligence.

Interestingly, this week, Elon Musk announced that his artificial intelligence startup, xAI, plans to open source “Grok,” its competitor to ChatGPT.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that OpenAI’s legal representatives, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, were previously sued by Elon Musk in the same San Francisco court. The lawsuit contested the $90 million in legal fees that the firm received for advising Twitter during its successful bid to compel Musk to complete his $44 billion acquisition of the social media company.

Open AI added in the filing that the case, involving complex and technical details spanning almost ten years, and Musk’s request for significant court intervention strongly suggests it should be treated as a “complex” case.

Under the California Rules of Court, a “complex case” is one that “requires exceptional judicial management to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on the court or the litigants and to expedite the case, keep costs reasonable, and promote effective decision making by the court, the parties, and counsel.”

Copyright © 2024 IDG Communications, Inc.


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