Sam Altman and OpenAI are being sued by Elon Musk for allegedly betraying the nonprofit AI mission.

Twitter said it will remove SMS 2FA for non-paying accounts
Michael Kovac / Vanity Fair

Elon Musk has sued OpenAI, its co-founders Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, and its affiliated entities, alleging the ChatGPT makers have breached their original contractual agreements by pursuing profits instead of the nonprofit’s founding mission to develop AI that benefits humanity.

Musk, an OpenAI co-founder and early supporter, says Altman and Brockman persuaded him to assist in founding and fund the company in 2015 by claiming it would be a nonprofit organization dedicated to fending off Google's danger of competition. According to the lawsuit, OpenAI was bound under the founding agreement to make its technology "freely available" to the general public.

The lawsuit, which was submitted late on Thursday to a San Francisco court, claims that OpenAI, the most valuable AI startup in the world, changed to a for-profit business model with an emphasis on commercializing its AGI research after joining forces with Microsoft, the most valuable company in the world, which has contributed roughly $13 billion to the startup.

OpenAI, Inc. has, in effect, become a de facto closed-source subsidiary of Microsoft, the biggest technological firm in the world. Under its new board, it is not just developing but is actually refining an AGI to maximize profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanity,” the lawsuit adds. “This was a stark betrayal of the Founding Agreement.”

The lawsuit follows Musk airing concerns about OpenAI’s shift in priorities in the past year. According to the legal complaint, Musk donated over $44 million to the nonprofit between 2016 and September 2020. For the first several years, he was the largest contributor to OpenAI, the lawsuit adds. Musk, who left OpenAI’s board in 2018, has been offered a stake in the for-profit arm of the startup but has refused to accept it over a principled stand, he said earlier.

Musk owns the social network X. last year launched Grok, a rival to ChatGPT.

In the past, Altman has also addressed some of Musk's worries, such as the tight connections with Microsoft. "I enjoy the guy." Regarding Musk's critiques from a conference last year, he declared, "I think he's totally wrong about this stuff." "He can say whatever he wants, but I try to stay above all that because I'm proud of what we're doing and I think we're going to make a positive contribution to the world."

After OpenAI released ChatGPT in late 2022, competitors are still attempting to duplicate its startlingly human-like reactions, setting off an AI arms race. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella landed a gloved jab at the rest of the industry last month."Today's model is the best one yet. Despite all the excitement, GPT4 has improved after a year, he claimed. "We are awaiting the arrival of the competitors. Though I'm sure it will come, the reality is that we currently have the top LLM available.

An email exchange between Musk and Altman, presented as evidence in the lawsuit.
An email exchange between Musk and Altman, presented as evidence in the lawsuit.

The complaint filed on Thursday cites a recent interview with Nadella to assert a close alignment between Microsoft and OpenAI. In the midst of OpenAI's abrupt leadership transition towards the end of the previous year, Nadella declared, "We have all the IP rights and all the capability... even if OpenAI disappeared tomorrow." We have the people, we have the compute, we have the data, we have everything. We are below them, above them, around them.” The lawsuit presents this as evidence that OpenAI has strongly served Microsoft’s interests.

The lawsuit also centers around OpenAI’s GPT-4, which Musk claims constitutes AGI — an AI whose intelligence is at par, if not higher, than humans. He alleges OpenAI and Microsoft have improperly licensed GPT-4 despite agreeing that OpenAI’s AGI capabilities would remain dedicated to humanity.

By filing the complaint, Musk hopes to force OpenAI to stay true to its founding principles and prevent it from profiting from technology created for the nonprofit organization's advantage or that of its partners, such as Microsoft, or OpenAI officials.

The suit also requests the court rule that AI systems like GPT-4 and other advanced models in development constitute artificial general intelligence that reaches beyond licensing agreements. In addition to injunctions forcing OpenAI’s hand, Musk asks for accounting and potential restitution of donations meant to fund its public-minded research should the court find it now operates for private gain.

"Mr. Altman personally selected a new board that does not have the prior board's deliberate technical proficiency or deep history in AI governance. Following Mr. Altman's return, Mr. D'Angelo—a tech CEO and entrepreneur—was the lone surviving member of the prior board. The lawsuit further states that the new Board was made up of individuals with greater backgrounds in politics or profit-driven businesses than in AI ethics and governance. 

How to keep your Twitter secure without giving Elon Musk any money

Twitter announced that it will stop supporting accounts that don't pay.

Twitter declared late on Friday that any account that refuses to pay for text message two-factor authentication (2FA) will have it removed.

Twitter announced in a blog post that text message-based 2FA will only be available to accounts that are enrolled in its premium Twitter Blue service. By March 20, Twitter users who choose not to use two-factor authentication will have it withdrawn from their accounts.

That means that anyone who relies on Twitter sending a text message code to their phone to log in will have their 2FA switched off, allowing anyone to access their accounts with just a password. If you have an easily guessable Twitter password or use that same password on another site or service, you should take action sooner rather than later.

"Committed to keeping people safe and secure on Twitter," is how Twitter describes its mission. This is untrue. Rather, you're witnessing a live demonstration of one of the most ludicrous security decisions ever made by a corporation.

It’s not clear for what reason this new 2FA policy, first revealed by Platformer’s Zoë Schiffer and later confirmed by Twitter, was instituted. Since Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover, Twitter has been losing money and staff members. Given the expense of sending text messages, it is likely that the decision to remove SMS 2FA was made in order to save money for the business. We would reach out to Twitter for a response, but Musk sacked the company's entire PR staff.

Twitter justified the decision in its blog post, saying SMS 2FA can be abused by bad actors. This might refer to SIM swap attacks, where a hacker convinces your cell provider to assign a victim’s phone number to a device controlled by the hacker. The hacker can assume the identity of the victim by obtaining control of their phone number. They can also obtain text message codes that grant them access to the victim's internet accounts.  But making SMS 2FA available to only Twitter Blue subscribers doesn’t make paying users any more protected from SIM swap attacks. If anything, by encouraging paid users to rely on SMS 2FA, their Twitter accounts are more prone to takeovers if their phone number is hijacked.

Having said that, and this is crucial, SMS 2FA still offers significantly stronger account safety than utilizing no 2FA at all. However, using a more secure 2FA is not something that Twitter's new policy is intended to encourage. In fact, companies like Mailchimp take the opposite (but correct) approach by encouraging users to switch on 2FA by discounting customers’ monthly bills.

The bright side, if you can call it that, is that Twitter isn't completely abandoning 2FA. You don't have to pay Elon Musk a cent to secure your account with robust 2FA.

Regardless of whether or not you have abandoned your Twitter account in favor of alternative, decentralized services like Mastodon and others, you will still want to take action before March 20 to secure your account in the event that someone breaks in and starts tweeting on your behalf.

Instead of using 2FA codes sent by text message, you need app-based 2FA, which is far more secure and is as fast as receiving a text message. (Many online sites, services and apps also offer app-based 2FA.) Instead of having a code sent to your phone by text message, you can generate a code through an authenticator app on your phone — like Duo, Authy or Google Authenticator to name a few. This is so much more secure as the code never leaves your device.

Twitter screenshots
To set this up, first make sure you have your authenticator app installed on your phone. Go to your Twitter account, then go to Settings and privacy, then Security and account access, then Security. Once you’re on the Two-factor authentication settings, select Authentication app. Follow the prompts carefully — you may have to enter your account password to get started. Once you’re done, you will be able to log in using your password, then a code generated from your authenticator app.

Recall that this is a considerably more secure method of accessing your Twitter account, so it may be quite challenging to retrieve it in the event that you misplace your phone. For this reason, you should properly store your backup codes in your password manager and maintain a record of them. These codes let you access your account in the event that you lock yourself out. You can find your backup codes in the same place you set up your app-based 2FA.


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