Elon Musk reportedly left OpenAI's board in 2018 after Sam Altman and other cofounders rejected his plan to run the company
- Elon Musk tried to take over OpenAI in 2018 but walked away after Sam Altman and other founders rejected the idea, Semafor reported.
- Musk was a founder and board member of OpenAI before he left in 2018, citing a conflict of interest with Tesla.
When Elon Musk left the board of OpenAI in 2018, the stated reason was to avoid any potential conflict of interest with Tesla. A new report from Semafor points the finger elsewhere: a failed takeover attempt.
Musk told fellow cofounder Sam Altman in early 2018 that he thought OpenAI, which has since created ChatGPT, was lagging behind Google, people familiar with the matter told Semafor. Musk offered to take charge of OpenAI to lead it himself, but when Altman and other co-founders said no, Musk stepped down from the board and backed out of a huge donation, per Semafor.
Musk didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Upon Musk's departure in February 2018, OpenAI said he'd continue to provide funding and advice to the organization.
"As Tesla continues to become more focused on AI, this will eliminate a potential future conflict for Elon," OpenAI said in a blog post then. Musk has talked for years about Tesla's ambitions for self-driving electric cars.
Since leaving OpenAI, Musk has become an outspoken critic of the company. A year after walking away from the board, he said he "didn't agree with some of what OpenAI team wanted to do." In 2020, he said the firm "should be more open."
In December, days after ChatGPT debuted, he said, "OpenAI was started as open-source & non-profit. Neither are still true." On a Twitter thread posted by Altman, Musk commented, "ChatGPT is scary good. We are not far from dangerously strong AI."
Last month, Musk doubled down on his criticisms of OpenAI.
"OpenAI was created as an open source (which is why I named it "Open" AI), non-profit company to serve as a counterweight to Google, but now it has become a closed source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft. Not what I intended at all," he tweeted.
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