Elon Musk Threatens to Sue Microsoft Over Alleged Improper Use of Twitter Data for AI Training

On Wednesday, April 19, 2023, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, took to Twitter to threaten legal action against Microsoft, accusing the software giant of improperly utilizing Twitter’s data to train its AI model. This came after reports from various publications, including Mashable, claimed that Microsoft was planning to remove Twitter from its advertising platform, which allows ad buyers to manage all their social media accounts in one spot.

According to Musk, Microsoft mined user tweets to train its AI-powered applications, and the decision to abandon Twitter means that its customers will no longer be able to access their Twitter accounts through its tools and generate, manage, view, and schedule Tweets. Microsoft’s decision to cease supporting Twitter across its online social advertising tools, Smart Campaigns, and Multi-platform, is set to take effect on April 25.

This isn’t the first time that Musk and Microsoft have been at odds. In 2020, they disagreed over the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Musk has also accused Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates of shorting Tesla’s stock and even made fun of his weight.

Related Reading: Musk’s Comments Spark Debate Over the Role of Recessions in Economic Growth

Data ownership has become a contentious issue in the race to develop generative AI, and big tech firms are attempting to develop cutting-edge AI models, such as OpenAI’s GPT, while data owners are trying to halt them or charge for their content. Microsoft creates its own large language models (LLMs) and licenses OpenAI’s models. In an unusual agreement last year, Microsoft invested $10 billion in OpenAI, of which Musk was a co-founder before quitting its board in 2018. Musk has recently expressed dissatisfaction with the company’s transition from a nonprofit model to a highly valued business driven by Microsoft.

This recent threat from Musk highlights the growing importance of data ownership in the AI race. Companies like Reddit and Universal Music Group are charging businesses for access to their data, and image stock database Getty Images is prosecuting Stable Diffusion for allegedly stealing its content to train its artificial intelligence image generator. Musk himself announced in December that Twitter would “pause” OpenAI’s database access and has also expressed plans to develop his own large language model for one of his companies, TruthGPT.

In conclusion, data ownership and access have become crucial factors in the AI industry’s development, and as the race continues, we can expect to see more legal battles over data ownership and use.

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