xAI: Elon Musk’s Ambitious Quest to Grasp Reality and Rival OpenAI

It hasn’t been long since Elon Musk resigned as the CEO of Twitter, only to take the helm as CEO once more. This time it will be a novel AI startup called xAI. The richest person on the globe has summoned a team of exceptional experts in the field of artificial intelligence.

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Illustration: Lenka T.

What is xAI? 

There are not many details about xAI’s plans at this moment. The startup has a website that showcases a team comprising individuals with previous experiences at influential organizations like DeepMind, OpenAI, Google Research, Microsoft Research, and Tesla, among others. 

Some notable members of the team include Igor Babuschkin, Manuel Kroiss, Yuhuai (Tony) Wu, and Christian Szegedy, who have contributed to significant advancements in the AI field, such as AlphaCode, Minerva, GPT 3.5, and the upcoming GPT-4. 

Elon Musk will lead the team, with Dan Hendrycks, the current Director at the Center for AI Safety, serving as an advisor. 

xAI has made it clear that it operates independently from X Corp, dispelling any notion of being an AI project tied specifically to X (formerly Twitter). However, they have not ruled out potential collaborations with Musk’s other ventures, like Tesla or X, in the future.  

Not the first AI endeavor 

Musk’s latest venture into AI is not his first engagement with the field. Back in 2015, he was among the original investors of OpenAI, a non-profit research laboratory devoted to AI exploration. Nevertheless, as time went on, Musk gradually distanced himself from the organization due to unreconcilable differences. His distancing resulted in its division into two separate entities. One branch continued to pursue profit-driven initiatives, while the other remained true to its non-profit mission. 

The profit-driven branch of OpenAI gained significant recognition last year with the launch of ChatGPT, a conversational chatbot that swiftly became popular for its versatility. Aside from engaging in conversations, ChatGPT found multiple other applications, including content generation, idea generation, and code assistance for its users. 

Musk’s resistance to AI deployment 

Elon Musk has been a prominent critic of the path taken by OpenAI and the broader field of AI. In a recent BBC interview, Musk expressed his longstanding concerns about AI safety. His worry has persisted for over a decade. 

During a CNBC interview, Musk raised questions about the transformation of OpenAI from a non-profit, open-source organization to a for-profit entity that began restricting information about its technology. He also expressed caution about OpenAI’s association with Microsoft and the potential implications of the Redmond-based company’s investments in the former’s future growth. 

In March, Musk joined a group of celebrity signatories requesting a six-month pause on Giant AI Experiments. Interestingly, just a month later, reports surfaced about Musk establishing his own AI startup called xAI.  

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