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Elon Musk drops lawsuit after OpenAI published his emails

Lawyers for Elon Musk on Tuesday moved to dismiss the billionaire’s lawsuit against OpenAI and CEO Sam Altman, ending a months-long legal battle between co-founders of the artificial intelligence startup.

Musk — who co-founded OpenAI in 2015 — sued the company in February, accusing the ChatGPT maker of abandoning its original, nonprofit mission by reserving some of its most advanced AI technology for private customers. The lawsuit had sought a jury trial and for the company, Altman and co-founder and president Greg Brockman to pay back any profit they received from the business.

But OpenAI quickly pushed back against Musk’s claims, calling them “incoherent” and “frivolous” and arguing in a court filing that the case should be dismissed. The company also published a blog post that included several of Musk’s emails from OpenAI’s early days. The emails appeared to show Musk acknowledging the need for the company to make large sums of money to fund the computing resources needed to power its AI ambitions, which stood in contrast to the claims in his lawsuit that OpenAI was wrongly pursuing profit.

Musk’s lawyers did not cite a reason for their request to drop the lawsuit in Tuesday’s filing. A hearing regarding OpenAI’s motion to dismiss the case had been scheduled for Wednesday.

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The move to drop the lawsuit also came one day after Musk fired off a string of posts on his social media platform X criticizing OpenAI and its handling of user data, after Apple announced a partnership that integrates ChatGPT with digital personal assistant Siri for users on an opt-in basis.

“If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS (operating system) level, then Apple devices will be banned at my companies. That is an unacceptable security violation,” Musk said in one post. (Apple said as part of its announcement that user queries sent to ChatGPT will not be stored by OpenAI.)

The Musk-OpenAI legal battle represented the diverging visions for how the ChatGPT maker — which has quickly skyrocketed in value and become the leader in the burgeoning AI space that many see as the future of technology — should be managed.

Musk accused OpenAI of racing to develop powerful “artificial general intelligence” technology to “maximize profits.” OpenAI, meanwhile, accused Musk of essentially being jealous that he was no longer involved in the startup, after he left OpenAI in 2018 following an unsuccessful bid to convince his fellow co-founders to let Tesla acquire it.

But while OpenAI called Musk’s claims “a fiction,” the billionaire is not the only person who has raised questions about OpenAI’s leadership and direction. The company last year faced a high-profile leadership crisis that led to Altman’s temporary ouster from the company, apparently over concerns by several board members about the risks of artificial intelligence. After days of uncertainty and an intervention by Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI, Altman was restored to his position in what industry analysts said was a victory for those seeking to commercialize AI technology.

More recently, multiple high-profile OpenAI safety leaders exited the company, with several publicly claiming the company had prioritized quickly rolling out new products over safety. Weeks later, the company said it had established a new committee that would make recommendations to the company’s board about safety and security.

This story has been updated with additional details and context.

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