OpenAI Reveals Mails from Elon Musk Eyeing to Secure $1 billion in Funding and view Tesla as Significant Revenue Source

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OpenAI responded to a lawsuit filed by its co-founder, Elon Musk, Tesla, and SpaceX CEO, by issuing a public rebuttal on Tuesday. In the shared emails as part of the rebuttal, OpenAI revealed Musk’s suggestion to raise a minimum of $1 billion and his agreement with co-founder Ilya Sutskever regarding the gradual decrease in openness over time. Musk also conveyed to OpenAI’s co-founders in late 2018 his belief that the company had a 0% chance of prevailing against competitor DeepMind at Google “without a significant change in execution and resources.”

On Tuesday, OpenAI issued a public response to a lawsuit filed by co-founder Elon Musk, shedding light on what appears to be inconsistency on the part of the now-billionaire and early supporter of the company. In its rebuttal, OpenAI presented archived emails from Musk where the Tesla and SpaceX CEO advocated for the burgeoning startup to secure a minimum of $1 billion in funding and concurred with the notion of gradually reducing openness over time, advising against sharing the company’s scientific advancements with the public. These revealed correspondences stand in stark contrast to Musk’s recent stance, exhibited last week when he filed a lawsuit against OpenAI, CEO Sam Altman, and President Greg Brockman, alleging breach of contract and unfair competition.

In the lawsuit, Musk’s legal team alleges that the inner workings of OpenAI’s GPT-4 AI model are “completely secretive except to OpenAI—and, based on information and belief, Microsoft,” asserting that this secrecy is driven by commercial motives rather than safety concerns. OpenAI responded by stating, “We intend to move to dismiss all of Elon’s claims.”

In November, Musk expressed his opinion at The New York Times’ DealBook conference that OpenAI had strayed from its original mission. “OpenAI should be renamed ‘super closed source for maximum profit AI,’ because that’s what it actually is,” Musk declared during the event. He remarked that it had transitioned from being an “open source foundation” to a multibillion-dollar “for-profit corporation with closed source” approach.

In contrast, Musk seemed to advise against OpenAI co-founders adopting a overly conservative approach to fundraising, as indicated by emails reproduced by the company from December 2018. He expressed that OpenAI faced a zero-percent probability of emerging as a significant competitor to Google’s DeepMind unless the startup underwent a “dramatic change in execution and resources.”

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