Elon Musk announced a new AI company today, xAI, with the goal of understanding “the true nature of the universe.”
This project is spearheaded by AI experts from a wide range of organizations, including DeepMind, OpenAI, Google Research, Microsoft, Tesla, and the University of Toronto.
xAI, which currently consists of a 12-member team, will work under the guidance of Dan Hendrycks, the director at the Center for AI Safety (CAIS), a nonprofit AI research organization.
Announcing formation of @xAI to understand reality
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 12, 2023
The CAIS had previously released an ominous statement on AI, “Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”
Musk envisions collaborating with Twitter and Tesla to accomplish its yet-to-be-fully-disclosed mission. However, very little has been revealed yet, with further details forthcoming in Twitter Spaces session on Friday.
Back in April, Musk confirmed that Twitter had bought as many as 10,000 Nvidia GPUs, “It seems like everyone and their dog is buying GPUs at this point,” he said. “Twitter and Tesla are certainly buying GPUs.”
Several of the xAI team specialize in large language models (LLM) similar to OpenAI’s GPT-4, and it seems likely that LLMs will be part of xAI’s repertoire. But for what purpose remains under wraps – for now.
What’s xAI’s mission?
“The goal of xAI is to understand the true nature of the universe.” We’ll find out what that means on Friday.
What are the most fundamental unanswered questions?
— xAI (@xai) July 12, 2023
In an April interview with Tucker Carlson, Musk revealed his intention to develop what he termed “TruthGPT,” a “maximum-truth-seeking AI.” Some speculate that Musk intends to build AIs that are more “truthful” than current models, which perhaps wouldn’t be as remarkable as xAI’s current tagline.
Many have pointed out Musk’s ardent stance on AI – he’s been a firm member of the anti-AI brigade. Musk’s AI-inspired doomsday visions have been plastered all over his Twitter, including in debates with other influential figures like Yann LeCun.
However, this is a CEO who is currently planning a cage fight with Mark Zuckerberg – even his closest followers know to take his tweets with a pinch of salt.
xAI derives its name from X Corp, Twitter’s designation since early April, and the “X” moniker Musk ascribes to his concept of an “everything app.” However, they say, “We are a separate company from X Corp, but will work closely with X (Twitter), Tesla, and other companies to make progress towards our mission.”
Musk’s complex relationship with AI is set to take another turn. He broke away from OpenAI, which was founded in 2015 with a $1 billion donation from Musk and others.
Musk later recruited OpenAI staff for Tesla’s Autopilot project and was openly critical of OpenAI, which he described as a “profit-maximizing demon from hell.” He officially resigned from the OpenAI board in 2018.
But that’s how it goes in Silicon Valley – this could be a case of ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’
How Musk intends to prevent AI risks while investigating the universe’s secrets will take some mental gymnastics. Critics would argue the right guy is at the helm to perform them.
On the other hand, supporters are already excited about xAI, and Friday could signal one of the most monumental AI milestones of the year.