Why Elon Musk’s OpenAI Lawsuit Leans on A.I. Research From Microsoft

When Elon Musk sued OpenAI and its chief executive, Sam Altman, for breach of contract on Thursday, he turned claims by the start-up’s closest partner, Microsoft, into a weapon.

He repeatedly cited a contentious but highly influential paper written by researchers and top executives at Microsoft about the power of GPT-4, the breakthrough artificial intelligence system OpenAI released last March.

In the “Sparks of A.G.I.” paper, Microsoft’s research lab said that — though it didn’t understand how — GPT-4 had shown “sparks” of “artificial general intelligence,” or A.G.I., a machine that can do everything the human brain can do.

It was a bold claim, and came as the biggest tech companies in the world were racing to introduce A.I. into their own products.

Mr. Musk is turning the paper against OpenAI, saying it showed how OpenAI backtracked on its commitments not to commercialize truly powerful products.

Microsoft and OpenAI declined to comment on the suit. (The New York Times has sued both companies, alleging copyright infringement in the training of GPT-4.) Mr. Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

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