Elon Musk launches new company xAI to 'understand reality' and take on OpenAI

Shortly after resigning as CEO of Twitter, Musk is expected to assume the position of CEO once again, this time at a fresh AI startup.
Ameya Paleja
Elon Musk.
Elon Musk.

Getty Images 

The world's richest person has announced a new startup called xAI. Elon Musk has assembled a team of highly experienced professionals in the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) to establish this enterprise. However, Musk's Twitter statement merely offers limited information about the venture's objectives, leaving its purpose ambiguous for the time being.

Musk's recent foray into AI is not his initial involvement in the field. In 2015, he became an investor in OpenAI, a non-profit research laboratory dedicated to AI exploration. However, over time, Musk distanced himself from the organization, leading to its division into two entities: one pursued profit-driven endeavors, while the other retained its non-profit nature.

The profit-driven wing of OpenAI shot to fame last year after it launched ChatGPT, a conversational chatbot that has also found multiple other applications such as generating content, ideas and code for its users.

Musk's opposition to AI deployment

Musk has been very vocal in his opposition to the journey OpenAI has taken as well as AI in general. In an interview with the BBC earlier this year, Musk said that he had been worried about AI safety for over a decade.

During an interview with CNBC, Musk raised inquiries about the transformation of a previously non-profit, open-source organization into a for-profit entity that began withholding information about its technology. Musk has also been wary about OpenAI cozying up to Microsoft and the Redmond-based company's investments into fueling the former's future growth.

In March, Musk was one of the celebrity signatories asking to pause Giant AI Experiments for a period of six months but Interesting Engineering had also reported that he had established an AI startup called xAI, a month later, and now the company is taking shape.

Elon Musk launches new company xAI to 'understand reality' and take on OpenAI
AI is the buzzword these days

What is xAI?

Currently, there is limited information available regarding the specific plans of xAI. The company has a website and lists a number of people with previous experiences at companies like DeepMind, OpenAI, Google Research, Microsoft Research, and Tesla among others to be now onboard.

These include the likes of Igor Babuschkin, Manuel Kroiss, Yuhuai (Tony) Wu and Christian Szegedy to name a few. It then goes on to highlighting their involvement in various influential methods utilized within the AI field. They have played a significant role in major advancements such as AlphaCode, Minerva, GPT 3.5, and the upcoming GPT-4.

The announcement confirms that Elon Musk will lead the team, and Dan Hendrycks, the current Director at the Center for AI Safety, will serve as the team's advisor.

xAI has promptly clarified that it operates independently from X Corp, dispelling any notion that it is an AI project specifically tied to X (formerly Twitter). However, this declaration does not rule out the possibility of collaboration with Musk's other ventures such as Tesla or X in the future.

Further revelations are expected as xAI prepares to host a Twitter Spaces chat on Friday, July 14.

Nevertheless, the underlying question remains: what unique approach does Musk intend to take with a diverse group of individuals who are actively involved in constructing the very AI he strongly opposes? Furthermore, if his intention is to open-source AI, how does xAI plan to generate revenue?

The Twitter Space will be an interesting place on Friday.

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