OpenAI Says Elon Musk Tried to Merge It With Tesla

OpenAI, in its first public comments about Elon Musk’s lawsuit against the influential artificial intelligence research lab, said that Mr. Musk tried to transform the lab from a nonprofit into a for-profit operation before he left the organization in early 2018.

The comments, made in a blog post published on Tuesday evening, are part of an escalating feud between Mr. Musk and OpenAI, which is now at the forefront of an industrywide A.I. boom. The company said it intended to move to dismiss all the claims in Mr. Musk’s suit.

Mr. Musk filed the suit against OpenAI and its chief executive, Sam Altman, on Friday, accusing them of breaching a contract by putting profits and commercial interests ahead of building A.I. for the public good. He said that when the A.I. lab entered a multi-billion-dollar partnership with the tech giant Microsoft, it abandoned its founding pledge to carefully develop A.I. and freely share it with the public.

(The New York Times sued OpenAI and its partner, Microsoft, in December, claiming copyright infringement of news content related to A.I. systems.)

Mr. Musk helped found OpenAI as a nonprofit in 2015 with Mr. Altman; Greg Brockman, who was the former chief technology officer of the payments company Stripe; and several A.I. researchers. Before the lab was announced, Mr. Altman and Mr. Brockman intended to raise about $100 million, but Mr. Musk said it should tell the press and public it was raising $1 billion and that he would provide the added funds, according to a contemporaneous email included in the blog post.

Mr. Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We need to go with a much bigger number than $100M to avoid sounding hopeless,” he wrote in the email. “I will cover whatever anyone else doesn’t provide.”

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