Elon Musk Drops Lawsuit Against OpenAI After It Releases Emails Showing He Was Totally on Board With What He's Now Criticizing

But His Emails

Billionaire Elon Musk has dropped his lawsuit against ChatGPT creator OpenAI, multiple outlets have reported. Musk didn't say why, but we'd bet those emails have something to do with it.

To recap, Musk was an original founder of the then nonprofit OpenAI, but left the company in 2018 after an alleged failed power grab. About a year after Musk's exit, OpenAI transitioned to a for-profit venture, naming Musk's former colleague and pal Sam Altman as chief executive. Eventually, in November 2022, OpenAI would step out of its Silicon Valley bubble and into the broader public eye upon the surprise release of the chatbot ChatGPT — and of course, the news of a multibillion-dollar cash infusion from Microsoft.

After ChatGPT's release, Musk — who quickly started working on his new AI company, xAI — became one of OpenAI's biggest critics, arguing publicly that the company had abandoned its mission to safely develop humanity-saving artificial general intelligence (AGI) in favor of cashing in on its tech. And finally, in March, Musk put his grievances into a decidedly sanctimonious lawsuit, suing OpenAI for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and unfair business practices.

OpenAI "is not just developing but is actually refining an AGI," read the lawsuit, "to maximize profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanity."

But OpenAI, for its part, showed up with serious receipts. Days after the lawsuit was filed, OpenAI published multiple emails sent by Musk prior to his departure from the AI firm in which the billionaire can be clearly seen supporting a for-profit structure for the venture — in other words, the exact thing that Musk was decrying OpenAI for doing.

Now, though, maybe bygones will be bygones. According to CNN, Musk quietly moved this week to drop the suit without comment. OpenAI, which elsewhere called the legal action "convoluted" and "incoherent," has scheduled a motion to dismiss the filing altogether.

Pots and Kettles

It's hard to imagine that the email leak had nothing to do with the abandonment of the suit. (Indeed, according to the documents, Musk was even pushing for OpenAI to fuse with one of his other companies, Tesla, in order to stay competitive with Google and other AI industry leaders.) It could also be true that the lawsuit just didn't have any solid legal footing, as The Verge argued last year.

Or maybe Musk is just busy enough with the staggering $6 billion he just raised for xAI, nevermind the multiple other companies and daily doomscrolling quotas that demand his attention.

At the end of the day, it's true that Musk's OpenAI critiques have arguably been pretty fair. But taken into context with the email leak, it's hard to shake the feeling of one billionaire pot calling the other billionaire kettle black. As for OpenAI? It's still got some bigger fish to worry about.

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