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Sam Altman isn't buying Elon Musk's explanation for his OpenAI lawsuit

Photo collage of Sam Altman on the left, OpenAI's logo on a phone in the middle and Elon Musk on the right
Sam Altman and Elon Musk.Anadolu
  • Sam Altman weighed in on Elon Musk's motivation for suing OpenAI.

  • The OpenAI CEO said he didn't think the lawsuit was about "open-source versus not."

  • Altman made the comments on Lex Fridman's podcast this week.

Sam Altman thinks Elon Musk's decision to file a lawsuit against OpenAI is not about whether its technology is open-source.

The OpenAI CEO weighed in on what could have spurred Musk to sue the company in an interview with podcaster Lex Fridman.

Altman said he didn't think "open-source versus not" is "what this is about for him."

Musk sued OpenAI, Altman and cofounder Greg Brockman earlier this month, claiming the company abandoned its original nonprofit mission through its structure and partnership with Microsoft.

The lawsuit quotes OpenAI's founding agreement as saying that the ChatGPT maker would "seek to open source technology for the public benefit when applicable," and that it isn't "organized for the private gain of any person."

OpenAI's founders fired back in a blog post and published a series of emails that suggested Musk supported its pivot to a hybrid for-profit and non-profit model and wanted it to merge with Tesla.

Musk then said he would "drop the lawsuit" if the company changed its name to "ClosedAI."

Commenting on Musk's proposal, Altman told Fridman: "I think that speaks to the seriousness with which Elon means the lawsuit — and it's an astonishing thing to say."

Altman added: "I think this whole thing is unbecoming of the builder. I respect Elon as one of the great builders of our time and I know he knows what it's like to have haters attack him, and it makes me extra sad he's doing it to us. It makes a lot of people sad. There's a lot of people that looked up to him."

He also appeared to take a dig at the xAI founder's timing to open source the code for its chatbot Grok. He said Musk only chose to do so after "people pointed out that it was a little hypocritical."

OpenAI and Elon Musk didn't respond to requests for comment from Business Insider.

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