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Revealed: Elon Musk’s Vision for a Tesla-OpenAI Merger Uncovered

Musk Tesla OpenAI Merger Vision

The founders of OpenAI issued a strong rebuttal to Elon Musk’s lawsuit on Tuesday evening, alleging that Musk attempted to seize complete control of the AI startup in 2017.

The emails show that Musk initially supported the idea of making the startup less open-sourced and more profitable, despite his current lawsuit against OpenAI for those same reasons. One significant change is that Elon Musk is no longer leading the company.

OpenAI’s founders stated in a blog post that in late 2017, they and Elon Musk decided to take the mission to the next level by creating a for-profit entity. Elon Musk sought to have the majority of equity, initial control of the board, and become the CEO. During the discussions, he decided to stop funding.

The reply was packed with interesting information and disclosed multiple internal emails. In 2016, Musk was already aware of OpenAI’s plans to raise capital and become less transparent as the startup grew, as indicated by the emails. Musk was present during that time and even tried to integrate OpenAI into Tesla, mentioning the need for billions of dollars in funding to rival Google. After OpenAI declined the offer, Musk departed, stating that OpenAI had no chance of success and that he would launch an AI competitor within Tesla.

I believe it is highly unlikely that OpenAI will become relevant to DeepMind/Google without a significant change in execution and resources. Definitely not 1%. “I wish it were otherwise,” Musk stated in an email to OpenAI founders.

An internal email discloses that the term “open” in OpenAI did not refer to being open-sourced. In 2016, Musk replied with a simple “yup” to an email from OpenAI’s Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, who explained the significance of the name and mentioned that sharing AI models early was primarily a recruitment strategy.

“As we approach the development of AI, it will be more appropriate to become less transparent,” Sutskever mentioned in the email. “The Open in openAI signifies that everyone should reap the rewards of AI once it’s developed, but it’s perfectly fine to keep the research private.”

The reply was written by the creators of OpenAI, including Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, John Schulman, Wojciech Zaremba, and especially Ilya Sutskever. The Chief Scientist’s position at the company has been uncertain since he spearheaded the effort to dismiss Sam Altman in November, and this is the first update from Sutskever in almost four months. Altman has declined to confirm his current status with the company in several interviews.

On Wednesday, Musk responded to OpenAI’s reply on X.

He mentioned that if OpenAI were to change its name to “ClosedAI,” he would drop the lawsuit in a tweet on Wednesday. Even though Musk has highlighted the importance of open-sourced AI, his OpenAI competitor, xAI, does not make the AI models behind Grok open-source.

Additionally, mentioned in the blog post is the achievement of over 100 million daily active users by ChatGPT, along with the email dump. In November 2023, OpenAI achieved 100 million weekly active users. According to OpenAI’s founders, now “hundreds of millions of people use the free version of ChatGPT every day.”

OpenAI has been working on plans to generate profit and keep its top AI models private for over eight years. It seems like Musk was aware of them from the start. These plans were not publicly disclosed until now, which may have been Musk’s intention with this lawsuit. The emails indicate that Musk’s main concern is no longer being in charge of OpenAI.


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