Elon Musk Files Lawsuit Against OpenAI and CEO Sam Altman Over Alleged Contract Breach

OpenAI and Microsoft have not yet commented on the lawsuit.

Elon Musk Files Lawsuit Against OpenAI and CEO Sam Altman Over Alleged Contract Breach
Image / Elon Musk

Elon Musk has initiated legal action against Microsoft-backed OpenAI and its CEO, Sam Altman, alleging a breach of contract and a departure from the company's original mission of developing artificial intelligence (AI) for the betterment of humanity.

The lawsuit, filed in a San Francisco court, claims that Musk agreed to establish a nonprofit lab with Altman and OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman in 2015. The lab was intended to focus on the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI) with the aim of benefiting humanity at large.

Although Musk co-founded OpenAI in 2015, he stepped down from the board in 2018, expressing concerns about the potential dangers of AI, which he likened to being "potentially more dangerous than nukes."

The lawsuit alleges that OpenAI, under its current leadership, has deviated from its original mission and has become a closed-source subsidiary of Microsoft, prioritizing profits for the tech giant rather than serving the broader interests of humanity.

Musk's legal team seeks to compel OpenAI to adhere to the founding agreement and refocus its efforts on developing AGI for the benefit of humanity, rather than serving the interests of individual defendants and Microsoft.

The lawsuit comes at a time when Microsoft's reported $13 billion investment in OpenAI is under scrutiny from EU antitrust regulators. Additionally, Microsoft recently announced a partnership with French startup Mistral AI, signaling its continued interest in AI development and commercial opportunities.

The legal dispute between Musk and Altman underscores the ongoing debate surrounding the ethical and societal implications of AI, particularly as advancements in the field continue to accelerate. Both Musk and Altman have been prominent figures in the tech industry, with Musk leading companies like Tesla, SpaceX, and Neuralink, while Altman has played a key role in OpenAI's development and growth.