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Elon Musk threatens to sue Microsoft over AI training

Shortly after reports emerged on Wednesday that Microsoft is about to remove Twitter from its ad platform, Twitter CEO Elon Musk fired back with the threat of a lawsuit, claiming the computer giant illegally used Twitter’s data, such as users’ tweets, to train its artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

“They trained illegally using Twitter data,” Musk tweeted, adding: “Lawsuit time.”

They trained illegally using Twitter data. Lawsuit time.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 19, 2023

Microsoft’s move, confirmed on its website, means that users will be unable to access their Twitter account and manage tweets through Microsoft’s social media management service starting April 25, though as Mashable points out, firms using Microsoft Advertising will continue to have the ability to manage content for Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn via the platform.

Microsoft’s change of heart comes almost two months after reports claimed that Twitter would start charging between $42,000 and $210,000 per month for access to its API, which third-party developers might need to build their own related software.

While that’s small change for a company as big as Microsoft, its reported refusal to pay suggests the decision could be a principled one about handing over large fees for a service that until recently was free. Digital Trends has reached out to Microsoft for more information and we will update this article when we hear back.

ChatGPT, as well as other generative-AI tools like Google’s Bard, are trained using accessible data on the internet, and Musk appears unhappy over  Microsoft’s possible use of Twitter data for some of that training.

Musk is also known to be upset about how ChatGPT creator OpenAI has grown increasingly close to Microsoft, which has poured billions of dollars into the startup’s development. Musk helped to form OpenAI in 2015 (though he left soon after), and now appears to be unhappy about how Microsoft is using the technology to rejuvenate its own business.

In a tweet in February, Musk tweeted: “OpenAI was created as an open source, nonprofit company to serve as a counterweight to Google,” lamenting that it has become “a closed source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft. Not what I intended at all.”

Musk recently confirmed that he’s making plans to launch his own ChatGPT competitor, possibly called TruthGPT.

It’s too early to say if Twitter’s CEO will follow through on his threat to sue Microsoft, but his comment hints at the high stakes wrapped up in the new wave of AI tools that have the potential to transform many parts of society.

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Trevor Mogg
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