In addition to commercial space travel, electric vehicles, neurotechnology, and social media, you can now add using artificial intelligence (AI) to “understand the true nature of the universe” to billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk‘s list of business ventures.
During a Twitter Spaces event on July 12, Musk announced the launch of xAI, solidifying his aspiration to take on AI industry leaders like OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google in the quest to develop advanced machine learning that can mimic or surpass human intelligence.
According to the company’s website, Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, will lead the effort. The current xAI team also includes 11 AI researchers that have previously worked for companies such as Google, DeepMind, OpenAI, and Microsoft. The Center for AI Safety director, Dan Hendrycks, is listed as an advisor.
“The goal of xAI is to understand the true nature of the universe,” reads a line on the xAI website, which currently includes a single landing page with profiles of its top team members and recruiting pitch for experienced engineers and researchers in the San Francisco bay area.
When announcing the company’s launch, Musk, and the xAI team didn’t shy away from this seemingly lofty goal of using AI to unravel the mysteries of the universe.
“Announcing formation of @xAI to understand reality,” Musk said on Twitter.
“Developing the ‘theory of everything’ for large neural networks will be central to taking AI to the next level, one of the xAI’s co-founders, Greg Wang, said in a Tweet. “Conversely, this AI will enable everyone to understand our mathematical universe in ways unimaginable before.”
It’s unclear how xAI will attempt to take on this ambitious endeavor.
And while there are some unanswered questions about xAI, it is no surprise that Musk is throwing his hat into the AI ring.
In April, the world’s richest man, according to Forbes, told former Fox News host Tucker Carlson he would be launching a project to build “a maximum truth-seeking AI.”
“I’m going to start something which I call ‘TruthGPT,’ or a maximum truth-seeking AI that tries to understand the nature of the universe,” Musk said.
In 2015, Musk was an early investor and co-founder of OpenAI, the artificial intelligence research company behind the viral chatbot ChatGPT. He, however, split with the firm in 2018, reportedly over disagreements over AI safety.
Musk has gone on to be one of the most vocal critics of the Microsoft-backed OpenAI, accusing the company of “training the AI to lie” and saying it has become a “closed source”, “for-profit” organization that is “closely allied with Microsoft.”
Some have already expressed skepticism about xAI’s ability to challenge well-established AI firms. “Its relatively small team of AI researchers does not look world-beating compared to the hundreds that each of those established firms can deploy on AI projects,” senior writer and AI journalist Will Knight wrote in Wired.
During the Twitter Spaces launch, Musk acknowledged that it would be a while before xAI would be on the same level as OpenAI and Google. Before the company’s official launch, Musk told Tucker Carlson, “It’s simply starting late. But I will try to create a third option.”
According to its website and Twitter page, xAI plans to hold a Twitter Spaces event on July 14 to allow people to ask questions and “meet the team.”
Tim McMillan is a retired law enforcement executive, investigative reporter and co-founder of The Debrief. His writing typically focuses on defense, national security, the Intelligence Community and topics related to psychology. You can follow Tim on Twitter:@LtTimMcMillan. Tim can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or through encrypted email:LtTimMcMillan@protonmail.com