Elon Musk Announces New AI Start-Up To “Understand Reality”

Elon Musk never seems to stop making a splash in the technology world. Now, his latest move has been announced – the formation of a new artificial intelligence (AI) startup. 

The Tesla boss has declared that the new company is called xAI, and it comes with a curious label attached: according to Mr Musk, the goal of this start-up is to “understand the true nature of the universe.” 

This leaves the specific objectives and what kind of AI the company wants to focus on up to the imagination. After all, what exactly could the operations of a start-up created to “understand reality” be? 

Elon Musk vs Artificial Intelligence 

Although Mr Musk announcing a new endeavour in the tech sector is unsurprising, this particular one comes as a bit of a revelation. This year, Mr Musk previously stated he believes developments in AI should be paused as the sector needs tighter regulation. 

When OpenAI exploded onto the global scene, the billionaire was one of the original supporters of what went on to create the popular large language model ChatCPT. 

However, Mr Musk’s relationship with OpenAI soured after he criticised ChatGPT for having a liberal bias and for its close relationship with arch-rival, Microsoft.

“It does seem weird that something can be a nonprofit, open-source and somehow transform itself into a for-profit, closed source,” he said in a CNBC interview.

Mr Musk directly pitted himself against the development of chatbots and their use of people’s personal data. This type of software learns how humans interact by scraping masses of data from various sources to fuel their knowledge and interaction styles.

The Twitter boss said he believes that vast amounts of data have been scraped from the microblogging platform and that the company should be adequately compensated. 

It all boiled over in March when Mr Musk joined in to sign an open letter calling for a pause to “Giant AI Experiments”. The letter currently has over 33,000 signatures. 

A month later, in the widely covered BBC interview, Mr Musk admitted he had been worrying about the safety of AI for over a decade. 

“I think there should be a regulatory body established for overseeing AI to make sure that it does not present a danger to the public”, he said.

A Delve Into xAI

Regardless of Elon Musk’s previous statements regarding AI, it seems plans for xAI are full speed ahead. 

Unfortunately, not too much is currently known about this mysterious new company. 

It includes several engineers and team members that are alumni of companies including OpenAI, Google Research, Microsft Research, Twitter and Tesla. The team behind xAI have worked on projects including DeepMind’s AlphaCode and OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 chatbots. 

This suggests Musk is positioning xAI to compete with the likes of OpenAI, ChatGPT and Google Bard.

In April, reports arouse that Musk has secured thousands of GPU processors from Nvidia in order to power a potential large language model. 

The same month, Musk shared details of his plans for a new AI tool: “What we need is TruthGPT”, he tweeted.

Furthermore, during a taped interview on Fox News Channel, Mr Musk added that he feared AI companies are prioritising systems that are “politically correct.” Could “TruthGPT” be Musk’s solution to this problem? 

One of the AI startup’s advisors will be Dan Hendrycks, executive director of the Center for AI Safety. This San Francisco-based nonprofit organisation published the aforementioned letter signed by tech leaders claiming that “mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.

But besides knowledge of individuals involved with the project, it remains unclear how much funding the entity has, what its specific objectives are or what kind of AI it will focus on.

The company’s website simply states that the goal of xAI is to “understand the true nature of the universe.” 

The website also states that the company will “work closely with X (Twitter), Tesla, and other companies to make progress towards our mission.”

Greg Yang, a co-founder of xAI, has stated that the startup will delve into the “mathematics of deep learning,” a facet of AI, and “develop the ‘theory of everything’ for large neural networks” to take AI “to the next level.”

The new firm will host a Twitter Spaces chat on Friday, which will hopefully reveal further details about the aims of xAI.