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OpenAI just fired back at the lawsuit filed last week by former co-founder turned rival Elon Musk over claims the company abandoned its founding principles and identity as a non-profit.

“We intend to move to dismiss all of Elon’s claims,” reads a blog post entitled “OpenAI and Elon Musk” authored by OpenAI President and Chairman Greg Brockman, Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, co-founder John Schulman, CEO and co-founder Sam Altman and co-founder Wojciech Zaremba.

And the response is, for now, largely a series of heavily redacted emails that seem to show Elon Musk not pushing back on the idea OpenAI would need to form a for-profit entity to raise enough money to continue its mission of achieving artificial generalized intelligence (AGI) — defined by Altman as AI generally smarter and better than humans — even as he expressed doubt the company could raise the “billions per year” he thought it needed to compete with Google’s DeepMind and Brain, Research, and Cloud units as well as its creation of TensorFlow and TPUs.

(Ironically, it is now Google seen as playing catch-up with its Gemini models.)

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Musk, for his part, wrote with an idea to merge OpenAI into Tesla which he planned to use as its “cash cow” to provide the funds the founders thought they needed to pursue AGI. It seems the multiple founders could not agree to this. But again, it also seems to show Musk was not only comfortable with the idea of OpenAI pivoting into a for-profit entity but proposing a version of it that would give him more control over all the other founders.

Then there’s this re-definition by Ilya Sutskever of the word “open” in the name itself:

Musk filed the suit last Thursday, Feb. 29 (Leap Day), and it accuses OpenAI and Altman and Brockman specifically of breaching the organization’s “founding agreement” and “set[ing] the Founding Agreement aflame” (rhetorically) by keeping the “internal design” of GPT-4 closed and private, accessibly only to OpenAI, and, as the suit accuses, Microsoft. No founding agreement document has been produced yet that I’ve seen, save for some email exhibits.

Maybe that is enough to constitute one in the eyes of the court since emails have been found to be contracts in some cases. But is this one of them?

Read all the emails below with redactions denoted as <> or at the OpenAI blog:

From:  Elon Musk <>
To:  Greg Brockman <>
CC:  Sam Altman <>
Date: Sun, Nov 22, 2015 at 7:48 PM
Subject: follow up from call
Blog sounds good, assuming adjustments for neutrality vs being YC-centric.

I'd favor positioning the blog to appeal a bit more to the general public -- there is a lot of value to having the public root for us to succeed -- and then having a longer, more detailed and inside-baseball version for recruiting, with a link to it at the end of the general public version.

We need to go with a much bigger number than $100M to avoid sounding hopeless relative to what Google or Facebook are spending. I think we should say that we are starting with a $1B funding commitment. This is real. I will cover whatever anyone else doesn't provide.

Template seems fine, apart from shifting to a vesting cash bonus as default, which can optionally be turned into YC or potentially SpaceX (need to understand how much this will be) stock.

From:  Elon Musk <>
To:  Ilya Sutskever <>, Greg Brockman <>
Date: Thu, Feb 1, 2018 at 3:52 AM
Subject: Fwd: Top AI institutions today
 is exactly right. We may wish it otherwise, but, in my and ’s opinion, Tesla is the only path that could even hope to hold a candle to Google. Even then, the probability of being a counterweight to Google is small. It just isn't zero.
Begin forwarded message:
From:   <>
To:  Elon Musk <>
Date: January 31, 2018 at 11:54:30 PM PST
Subject: Re: Top AI institutions today
Working at the cutting edge of AI is unfortunately expensive. For example <>

In addition to DeepMind, Google also has Google Brain, Research, and Cloud. And TensorFlow, TPUs, and they own about a third of all research (in fact, they hold their own AI conferences).

I also strongly suspect that compute horsepower will be necessary (and possibly even sufficient) to reach AGI. If historical trends are any indication, progress in AI is primarily driven by systems - compute, data, infrastructure. The core algorithms we use today have remained largely unchanged from the ~90s. Not only that, but any algorithmic advances published in a paper somewhere can be almost immediately re-implemented and incorporated. Conversely, algorithmic advances alone are inert without the scale to also make them scary.

It seems to me that OpenAI today is burning cash and that the funding model cannot reach the scale to seriously compete with Google (an 800B company). If you can't seriously compete but continue to do research in open, you might in fact be making things worse and helping them out “for free”, because any advances are fairly easy for them to copy and immediately incorporate, at scale.

A for-profit pivot might create a more sustainable revenue stream over time and would, with the current team, likely bring in a lot of investment. However, building out a product from scratch would steal focus from AI research, it would take a long time and it's unclear if a company could “catch up” to Google scale, and the investors might exert too much pressure in the wrong directions.The most promising option I can think of, as I mentioned earlier, would be for OpenAI to attach to Tesla as its cash cow. I believe attachments to other large suspects (e.g. Apple? Amazon?) would fail due to an incompatible company DNA. Using a rocket analogy, Tesla already built the “first stage” of the rocket with the whole supply chain of Model 3 and its onboard computer and a persistent internet connection. The “second stage” would be a full self driving solution based on large-scale neural network training, which OpenAI expertise could significantly help accelerate. With a functioning full self-driving solution in ~2-3 years we could sell a lot of cars/trucks. If we do this really well, the transportation industry is large enough that we could increase Tesla's market cap to high O(~100K), and use that revenue to fund the AI work at the appropriate scale.

I cannot see anything else that has the potential to reach sustainable Google-scale capital within a decade.

From:  Elon Musk <>
To:  Ilya Sutskever <>, Greg Brockman <>
CC:  Sam Altman <>,  <>
Date: Wed, Dec 26, 2018 at 12:07 PM
Subject: I feel I should reiterate
My probability assessment of OpenAI being relevant to DeepMind/Google without a dramatic change in execution and resources is 0%. Not 1%. I wish it were otherwise.

Even raising several hundred million won't be enough. This needs billions per year immediately or forget it.

Unfortunately, humanity's future is in the hands of <>

And they are doing a lot more than this.

I really hope I'm wrong.


Fwd: congrats on the falcon 9
3 messages
From:  Elon Musk <>
To:  Sam Altman <>, Ilya Sutskever <>, Greg Brockman <>
Date: Sat, Jan 2, 2016 at 8:18 AM
Subject: Fwd: congrats on the falcon 9
Begin forwarded message:
From:   <>
To:  Elon Musk <>
Date: January 2, 2016 at 10:12:32 AM CST
Subject: congrats on the falcon 9
Hi Elon

Happy new year to you, !

Congratulations on landing the Falcon 9, what an amazing achievement. Time to build out the fleet now!

I've seen you (and Sam and other OpenAI people) doing a lot of interviews recently extolling the virtues of open sourcing AI, but I presume you realise that this is not some sort of panacea that will somehow magically solve the safety problem? There are many good arguments as to why the approach you are taking is actually very dangerous and in fact may increase the risk to the world. Some of the more obvious points are well articulated in this blog post, that I'm sure you've seen, but there are also other important considerations:
Should AI Be Open?
I’d be interested to hear your counter-arguments to these points. Best From: Ilya Sutskever <> To: Elon Musk <>, Sam Altman <>, Greg Brockman <> Date: Sat, Jan 2, 2016 at 9:06 AM Subject: Fwd: congrats on the falcon 9 The article is concerned with a hard takeoff scenario: if a hard takeoff occurs, and a safe AI is harder to build than an unsafe one, then by opensorucing everything, we make it easy for someone unscrupulous with access to overwhelming amount of hardware to build an unsafe AI, which will experience a hard takeoff. 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 (even though sharing everything is definitely the right strategy in the short and possibly medium term for recruitment purposes). From: Elon Musk <> To: Ilya Sutskever <> Date: Sat, Jan 2, 2016 at 9:11 AM Subject: Fwd: congrats on the falcon 9 Yup Authors

Will this be enough to get Musk’s claims dismissed in court? We’ll see soon enough.

Meanwhile, I had my custom GPT Release Summarizer try its hand at analyzing the emails, and this is what it came up with:

OpenAI Clarifies Its Mission and Relationship with Elon Musk Amid Legal Dispute

In a recent announcement, OpenAI has taken a moment to share valuable insights on its journey towards achieving a monumental goal: the development of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) that benefits all of humanity. The organization, co-founded by industry stalwarts like Greg Brockman and Sam Altman, has been at the forefront of AI research, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with machine learning (ML) and neural networks.

Central to OpenAI’s announcement was a candid look at its evolving relationship with tech visionary Elon Musk. Initially, Musk’s involvement was characterized by significant financial commitments and a shared vision for a future where AGI could be harnessed for the greater good. Musk, suggesting an initial $1 billion funding commitment, aimed to set a bold tone for the scale of investment required to make meaningful advances in AI. However, OpenAI has raised less than $45 million from Musk, alongside over $90 million from other contributors, reflecting the complexities of funding cutting-edge research.

The journey has not been without its challenges. As OpenAI delved deeper into the necessities of building AGI, it became evident that the resources required far exceeded initial estimates. This realization led to a pivotal moment in the organization’s history: the decision to create a for-profit entity to secure the necessary capital. This shift, however, introduced a strain in the relationship with Musk, culminating in his decision to pursue AGI development independently within Tesla.

Despite these challenges, OpenAI’s commitment to its mission remains unwavering. The organization has continued to make significant contributions to the field of AI, developing technologies that not only advance the state of the art but also deliver tangible benefits to people around the world. From assisting Albania in accelerating its EU accession process to improving agricultural productivity in Kenya and India, OpenAI’s tools are making a difference.

The announcement also addresses the legal tensions with Musk, expressing a desire to move past the dispute and focus on the mission at hand. OpenAI’s stance is clear: the goal is to advance the development of AGI in a manner that is safe, beneficial, and widely accessible.

OpenAI’s journey is a testament to the complexities of navigating the uncharted territories of AGI development. It highlights the importance of collaboration, funding, and strategic adaptability in pursuing goals that have the potential to reshape the future. As OpenAI continues to push forward, its efforts to democratize access to powerful AI technologies offer a glimpse into a future where AI can serve as a force for good, empowering individuals and communities across the globe.

The story of OpenAI and its evolving relationship with Elon Musk underscores the multifaceted challenges of building technologies that can change the world. It’s a narrative of ambition, conflict, and perseverance—a reminder of the delicate balance between visionary ideals and the pragmatic realities of innovation.

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