Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur known for his ventures in electric cars and rockets, has launched a new artificial intelligence (AI) startup called xAI. At its core, the company aims to challenge existing big AI firms like OpenAI with its alternative to ChatGPT.
Announcing formation of @xAI to understand reality
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 12, 2023
Musk, who has been vocal about his concerns regarding AI’s potential for harm, intends to build a safer AI by creating a “maximally curious” AI that seeks to understand the true nature of the universe, he said in a Twitter Spaces event Wednesday evening.
He claimed that this approach will be more pro-humanity and aims to mitigate the risks associated with superintelligence, which he predicts will arrive within the next five to six years.
“If it tried to understand the true nature of the universe, that’s actually the best thing that I can come up with from an AI safety standpoint,” the billionaire said.
“I think it is going to be pro-humanity from the standpoint that humanity is just much more interesting than not-humanity.”
xAI Team Consists of Engineers From Google and Microsoft
The team at xAI comprises AI engineers from prominent tech companies such as Google’s DeepMind and Microsoft. Igor Babuschkin, Tony Wu, Christian Szegedy, and Greg Yang are among the notable members of the team that either previously worked at Google or Microsoft.
Furthermore, the xAI team is advised by Dan Hendricks, who leads the Center for AI Safety. Hendricks, who has completed a Ph.D. in computer science at the University of California, specializes in identifying and managing the risks associated with AI technology.
Musk’s new venture comes after his involvement with OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. Despite co-founding OpenAI in 2015, Musk stepped down from the company’s board in 2018 due to a conflict of interest with his other businesses.
As of late, he has been more vocal about the company, saying that it has strayed from his original open-source intentions. With xAI, Musk aims to compete against OpenAI’s ChatGPT, as well as Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Bing AI.
Musk’s involvement in the AI industry has been characterized by both support and criticism. While he has been an advocate for AI regulation and safety precautions, he has also been critical of OpenAI for implementing safeguards to prevent biased or sexist responses from their chatbot.
“The danger of training AI to be woke – in other words, lie – is deadly,” Musk tweeted in December, responding to a Twitter user who asked OpenAI’s CEO if it was possible to “turn off the woke settings” on ChatGPT.
The danger of training AI to be woke – in other words, lie – is deadly
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
xAI Aims to “Understand the True Nature of the Universe”
While details about xAI are still limited, its website emphasizes that the AI’s goal is “to understand the true nature of the universe.” The team, led by Musk, aims to explore reality without explicitly programming morality into the AI system. They seem to believe that developing a keen curiosity about humanity and the universe will be key to ensuring AI safety.
xAI is positioned as a separate entity from Musk’s other ventures, but it will collaborate closely with Twitter, Tesla, and other companies, according to the website. The startup aims to recruit experienced engineers and researchers in the San Francisco Bay Area.
All in all, xAI ostensibly aims to disrupt the AI industry by taking a unique approach to AI development. With Musk’s influential presence and a team of experienced professionals, xAI has the potential to bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the table.
How well it can change the industry and live up to its mission of building a safer AI remains to be seen, but it is certainly an exciting development worth keeping an eye on.