Elon Musk is suing ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and its CEO Sam Altman for a breach of contract, claiming they purposefully abandoned the start-up’s original mission to develop AI for the benefit of humanity over profit. 

The lawsuit, which was filed late on Thursday (29 February), alleges that Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman approached Musk to create an open-source, non-profit company. 

Musk claims that OpenAI is now working on “proprietary technology to maximise profits for literally the largest company in the world”.

The lawsuit comes after years of dispute between Musk and OpenAI. 

Musk, who co-founded the ChatGPT maker in 2015, said that he had given $44m to the company on the basis that it would remain a non-profit. 

Following disagreements with Altman in 2018, Musk left the board, and OpenAI established the company’s for-profit section a year later. The company has since entered a multi-billion partnership with Microsoft

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Musk’s lawsuit against OpenAI claims that the AI company’s latest model, GPT4, breached the threshold for artificial general intelligence (AGI) – when computers function at or above human intelligence. 

The Tesla owner’s lawsuit alleges that Microsoft’s deal with OpenAI gave a licence for pre-AGI technology. 

“Mr Musk has long recognised that AGI poses a grave threat to humanity – perhaps the greatest existential threat we face today,” the lawsuit says.

“To this day, OpenAI, Inc.’s website continues to profess that its charter is to ensure that AGI ‘benefits all of humanity’,” it adds. “In reality, however, OpenAI, Inc. has been transformed into a closed-source de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft.”

OpenAI has refuted claims that it has achieved AGI. The AI company notes that its large language models still generate hallucinations, which are made up of factual errors and inaccuracies.

Research and analysis company GlobalData forecasts that the overall AI market will be worth $909bn by 2030, having grown at a compound annual rate of 35% between 2022 and 2030.

In the GenAI space, revenues are expected to grow from $1.8bn in 2022 to $33bn in 2027, according to the company.