FROM HIS throne atop the digital kingdom of Twitter, tech overlord Elon Musk has decreed that he will launch his own Artificial Intelligence model. In layman’s terms, Musk tweeted about the formation of his own AI start-up, to, in his words, “understand reality”. But the tech billionaire has previously spoken out about the dangers of AI and has called for it to be more heavily regulated. So, what gives?
Amid the ongoing Threads vs Twitter war and with rumours of a UFC-style cage fight against Mark Zuckerberg swirling, it appears Musk has other things on his mind. In this case, it’s the survival of humanity against super-intelligent robots that’s piquing the billionaire’s interest. Speaking in a Spaces discussion on Twitter, Musk declared: “It’s actually important for us to worry about a Terminator future in order to avoid a Terminator future.” If anyone but Musk said this they’d be written off as crazy, but then again, he is the richest man in the world.
In line with his desire to avoid an AI apocalypse, Musk has decided to launch his own AI start-up called xAI, which he guarantees will be “pro-humanity”, unlike the cyborgs created by Skynet in the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi classic. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief on that one. Musk said xAI will be safe because it will be “maximally curious” about humanity, rather than having pre-programmed moral guidelines. Given unchecked, maladaptive curiosity is a potential precursor to creepy behaviour, that’s perhaps cause for concern.
Musk has always been interested in AI, as both an investor and critic. The Twitter owner and Tesla CEO was an early backer of OpenAI, which has since gone on to develop the popular ChatGPT and DALL-E models. That relationship soured when Musk became concerned about the speed of development and the danger AI posed to human safety. He has since been staunchly against rapid AI development, claiming that it could have disastrous consequences for humanity.
What will xAI do?
In tune with most things Musk-related, xAI’s goals are as ambitious as they are mysterious. The new company’s website states that its aim is to “understand the true nature of the universe”. So yeah, go big or go home.
It’s not entirely clear what xAI will do, but it sounds like it will be an AI chatbot, similar to ChatGPT and Bard, with the key difference being the aforementioned absence of moral guidelines programmed into the model.
Why did Elon Musk start xAI?
Musk has never been a fan of ChatGPT. The billionaire has previously claimed he believes AI companies are scraping masses of data from Twitter to feed knowledge to their models, which Musk claims Twitter should be compensated for.
The tech mogul has also voiced concerns surrounding how ChatGPT is run, as well as OpenAI’s warm relationship with Microsoft. He signed a petition to stop “Giant AI Experiments” earlier this year.
What has Elon Musk said about AI?
Musk has criticised ChatGPT for its moral bias, claiming the model has left-leaning programming. In February, he tweeted: “What we need is TruthGPT”, apparently convinced that ChatGPT was spouting misleading information.
In a CNBC interview, Musk threw shade at ChatGPT, saying, “It does seem weird that something can be a nonprofit, open source and somehow transform itself into a for-profit, closed source”.
In another interview with the BBC, Musk called for heavier regulations for AI, citing concerns for public safety. “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.
When will xAI be launched?
While Musk has said the need for xAI is urgent, he concedes that it will take some time before it reaches a suitable operating level, like that of ChatGPT or Google’s Bard. Which means that, by Musk’s reasoning, we remain at risk of an AI apocalypse in the near future. Best start setting up a resistance movement.