Elon Musk pulls screeching U-turn on AI with new company launch
San Francisco, California - Elon Musk on Wednesday launched his own artificial intelligence company, xAI, as he seeks to compete with OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT – a program he accuses of being politically biased and irresponsible.
The xAI website said the Tesla tycoon would run the company separately from his other companies but that the technology developed would benefit those businesses, including Twitter.
"The goal of xAI is to understand the true nature of the universe," the website said.
Musk on Twitter added that the new company's aim was to "understand reality" and answer life's biggest questions.
The startup is staffed by former researchers from OpenAI, Google DeepMind, Tesla, and the University of Toronto.
The team is to be advised by Dan Hendrycks, who currently leads the Center for AI Safety, a San Francisco-based organization that warns against developing AI too quickly.
Hendrycks also initiated the open letter to global leaders in June that warned AI was a risk to human existence on par with pandemics and nuclear war.
Musk's previous worries about the "existential threat" of AI
Just three months ago, Musk was warning about the dangers of AI, calling it "our biggest existential threat," and saying that moving too fast was like "summoning the demon."
The Twitter owner also co-signed a letter calling for a pause on new developments.
He has claimed to have cofounded OpenAI in 2015 because he regarded the dash by Google to make advances in artificial intelligence as reckless.
Musk left OpenAI in 2018 to focus on Tesla and later said he was also uncomfortable with the profit-driven direction the company was taking under the stewardship of CEO Sam Altman.
Musk also argues that OpenAI's large language models – on which ChatGPT depends on for content, as is the case with other AI programs – are overly politically correct, despite ample evidence that they actually reproduce existing prejudices.
Cover photo: Collage: REUTERS & IMAGO / ZUMA Wire