The Problem With Elon Musk’s Lawsuit Against Sam Altman and Open AI

It’s possible to interpret Elon Musk’s lawsuit against OpenAI as a case of sour grapes, and that perspective may indeed be accurate. This week, Mr. Musk filed a lawsuit against OpenAI, alleging that the company has violated the terms of its founding agreement and strayed away from its original principles. 

According to his account, OpenAI was established as a nonprofit organisation to develop advanced A.I. systems for the betterment of humanity and share its research openly with the public. However, Mr. Musk claims that OpenAI failed to uphold this commitment by creating a for-profit subsidiary and accepting significant investments from Microsoft.

Musk Wild Claims 

There may be some merit to the claims made by Elon Musk regarding a possible breach of contract. To assess the situation, it would be necessary to determine if a valid contract was established and analyse its terms. Valid contracts typically involve an offer, acceptance, and an exchange of value. However, proving the existence and enforceability of an unwritten contract can be challenging, especially when dealing with parties who have a lengthy history of business transactions.

Musk is claiming that OpenAI breached a contract that didn’t exist. The complaint refers to a “Founding Agreement,” but no such agreement is provided as evidence, and the breach of contract claim acknowledges that the “Founding Agreement” is based on a vibe from some emails.

Where Musk’s Argument Clearly Falls Short

According to the lawsuit, GPT-4 is asserted to be an AGI algorithm based on information and belief. The lawsuit refers to studies showing that the system can achieve passing grades on various exams, arguing that this demonstrates its superiority in reasoning compared to average humans.

Christopher Manning, a professor at Stanford University specialising in AI and language, warns that Musk’s claim will be seen as extravagant. He emphasises the diverse perspectives within the AI community on what truly defines AGI.

Manning explains that while some experts may consider GPT-4’s versatility as meeting the AGI criteria, others reserve the term for algorithms surpassing human intelligence in most or all tasks. Manning asserts that, by this definition, AGI is still a distant goal.


Elon Musk’s biggest issue is that there seems to be some large breach of contract between Open AI and him. A claim that can’t be proven because there is no physical or legally binding agreement between both parties.

This also further deteriorates his case because both groups parted ways back in 2019, and it feels shameful to find any legal standing between both parties. Musk’s claims are baseless and feel more aimed out of spite than out of any fundamental belief in the improvement of society. 

Musk’s fears are valid about the very present dangers surrounding AI and its management, implementation, and, safeguards. This is not the way to go about highlighting or trying to solve any of these problems. In the end, the real winners of this foolish battle will be the lawyers charging Musk exorbitant fees to further push his baseless legal demands. 


The richest man on Earth is making an argument before a court, claiming that he suffered unfair consequences due to his trust in a nonprofit organization. He donated millions of dollars to the organization without a written agreement. This is, at the very least, hilarious.

The complaint then transitions into additional claims, including catchall state claims and a final cause of action for “accounting,” which requires OpenAI to owe Musk money according to California law.

This expectation is unusual for donations made to a nonprofit organization. However, it is expected that OpenAI will likely respond with a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for “failure to state a claim.” 

References: The Verge, Wired, The New York Times 

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Oladipo Lawson

Oladipo is an economics graduate with multifaceted interests. He's a seasoned tech writer and gamer and a passionate Arsenal F.C. fan. Beyond these, Dipo is a culinary adventurer, trend-setting stylist, data science hobbyist, and an energised traveller, embodying intellectual versatility and mastery of many fields.

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