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  • Voltaire Staff

Elon Musk wanted to merge OpenAI with Tesla, sought full control, claims ChatGPT-maker

Elon Musk veered away from an initial objective of crafting artificial intelligence (AI) for the greater good, and suggested that the platform be used for monetary gain, OpenAI, which is facing a lawsuit from the Tesla boss, has alleged.

The ChatGPT-maker made the allegation in blog post on Tuesday and released a series of e-mails between Musk and OpenAI.

In its post, the foremost AI company of the world said its mission is to ensure AGI benefits all of humanity, and that it seeks to build "safe and beneficial AGI and helping create broadly distributed benefits."

Last week, Musk initiated legal action against OpenAI which he helped establish, alleging a breach of contract and asserting that the firm, now supported by Microsoft has shifted its focus solely to profit-making endeavours.

OpenAI responded, "We spent a lot of time trying to envision a plausible path to AGI. In early 2017, we came to the realization that building AGI will require vast quantities of compute. We began calculating how much compute an AGI might plausibly require."

It added, "We all understood we were going to need a lot more capital to succeed at our mission—billions of dollars per year, which was far more than any of us, especially Elon, thought we’d be able to raise as the non-profit."

It said Musk at one point proposed merging OpenAI with Tesla or obtaining full control, and attached an email where Musk suggested OpenAI should function as a financial asset for Tesla.

The suggestion came in late 2017 when discussions arose about transitioning to a for-profit structure to generate capital for building AI.  

Musk, OpenAI said, sought majority equity, board control, and the CEO position.

OpenAI declined Musk's terms due to concerns about centralized control and objected to any one individual having absolute control, aligning with its mission against such consolidation of power.

In February 2018, Musk suggested merging OpenAI into Tesla, emphasising Tesla as a potential competitor to Google.

Musk, however at the end, left OpenAI, saying he would develop an AGI competitor at Tesla as he found the chances of success for OpenAI as zero.

He, all the same, encouraged the team to seek funding independently.

In December 2018, Musk said the company would need billions of dollars annually for the project's success.

Musk's lawsuit claims that OpenAI's three founders initially committed to developing AGI, a technology that would allow machines to perform tasks like humans, with a focus on benefiting humanity.

Musk, it has been revealed, urged OpenAI to announce a $1 billion funding commitment in 2015, surpassing the initial plan of raising $100 million proposed by CEO Sam Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman.

Musk, according to an email, said, "We need to go with a much bigger number than $100M to avoid sounding hopeless… I think we should say that we are starting with a $1B funding commitment… I will cover whatever anyone else doesn't provide."

OpenAI said it was disappointed that things have to such a pass with a man who its founders once admired.

"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," it wrote.

Musk's lawsuit stems from his ongoing disagreement with the start-up. He at one point last year also advocated for a moratorium on all future development in AI pending proper assessment of all technology in the field thus far in use.

OpenAI gained prominence in generative AI, backed by substantial funding from Microsoft. Musk later established his own AI startup, xAI, which debuted in July.





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