OpenAI Calls Elon Musk’s Claims ‘Incoherent’ in Court Filing

OpenAI lambasted Elon Musk’s allegations against it, saying in a court filing that the billionaire entrepreneur’s claims “rest on convoluted — often incoherent — factual premises.” 

The strongly worded filing is the company’s first legal response to Musk’s February lawsuit against the company, Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman and President Greg Brockman. Musk alleged the startup had strayed from its mission to build responsible artificial intelligence and that it had become beholden to Microsoft Corp., its largest investor. 

In the filing, OpenAI stresses that it did not violate its agreement with Musk because “there is no founding agreement, or any agreement at all with Musk, as the complaint itself makes clear.” OpenAI also denied Musk’s claims in a memo to staff and a blog post last week.

“The relief Musk seeks is as extraordinary as his claims are contrived,” OpenAI said in its filing in San Francisco state court. “Musk requests an order compelling OpenAI to reorganize and distribute its technology in accordance with the terms of his fictitious contract.”

OpenAI and Musk have been engaged in a well publicized battle since well before the court case. Musk was an early backer of the startup and part of its founding team, before he had a falling out with the company. Musk has criticized OpenAI for its commercialization strategy and its close relationship with Microsoft. 

In its blog post, OpenAI said that Musk had previously pushed to make the company part of Tesla Inc., his car company. It also said in the filing that Musk was in favor of OpenAI operating as a for-profit company, but only if he controlled it. “Seeing the remarkable technological advances OpenAI has achieved, Musk now wants that success for himself,” the company’s lawyers wrote.

Musk and OpenAI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The dispute between two of tech’s biggest players touches on core issues of AI safety and accessibility, and has spilled over into the larger startup world. On Monday, billionaire venture capitalist and OpenAI investor Vinod Khosla told Bloomberg TV that Musk could not sue his way to artificial general intelligence.

OpenAI also argues in the filing that if pretrial fact-finding and information sharing known as discovery begins in the case, Musk would use the suit to get access to OpenAI’s “proprietary records and technology,” and warned that demands for discovery “would need to be carefully policed.”

OpenAI also asked that the court designate the suit a “complex case,” which under California rules is a meant to avoid making the case unnecessarily burdensome for the court and the parties involved. Cases are typically deemed complex and assigned to specially designated judges when they involve complicated and technical issues, as well as multiple parties and numerous claims.

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