Sam Altman Thought Elon Musk Would Have ‘More Empathy’ for OpenAI

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  • Sam Altman says he thought Elon Musk would’ve had “more empathy” for OpenAI’s big dreams.
  • Altman said it “wasn’t that long ago” that people were mocking Musk for his spacefaring ambitions.
  • I think this whole thing is unbecoming of a builder,” Altman told podcaster Lex Fridman.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman says he thought his former cofounder Elon Musk would have had “more empathy” for the AI company’s huge ambitions.

“It wasn’t that long ago Elon was crazily talking about launching rockets when people were laughing at that thought, so I think he’d have more empathy for this,” Altman told podcaster Lex Fridman in the latest episode of his show, which aired on Monday.

Altman referenced Musk’s spacefaring ambitions with his rocket company SpaceX, while discussing Musk’s lawsuit against OpenAI. On February 29, Musk filed a lawsuit the ChatGPT maker and Altman. In his lawsuit, Musk accused the company of violating its nonprofit mission when it partnered with Microsoft.

But Musk, Altman said, had at one point wanted to “make OpenAI into a for-profit company that he could have control of.” This was prior to Musk’s departure from OpenAI’s board in 2018.

Altman told Fridman that he found Musk’s lawsuit and conduct bewildering. On March 6, Musk said in a post on X that he would drop his lawsuit against OpenAI if they changed their name to “ClosedAI.”

“I think that speaks to the seriousness with which Elon means the lawsuit, and that’s like an astonishing thing to say, I think,” Altman said, referencing Musk’s X post.

Altman isn’t the only one to have expressed disappointment at Musk’s behaviour. Vinod Khosla, an early OpenAI backer, said that Musk’s lawsuit “feels like a bit of sour grapes.

“Like they say if you can’t innovate, litigate and that’s what we have here. Elon of old would be building with us to hit the same goal,” Khosla wrote in an X post on March 2.

This is a view Altman shares, per his latest interview with Fridman.

“Look, I think this whole thing is unbecoming of a builder. And I respect Elon as one of the great builders of our time,” Altman told Fridman.

“It makes me sad. And I think it makes a lot of people sad. There’s a lot of people who’ve really looked up to him for a long time,” Altman said.

Representatives for OpenAI and Musk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.

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