• On Wednesday, Elon Musk officially launched an AI company called xAI.
  • Although there are currently few details about the company’s ambitions, Musk stated during a Twitter Spaces even that he wants his AI to “understand the true nature of the universe.”
  • Musk has had a long and somewhat confusing relationship with AI—extolling its world-ending potential while backing some of the technology’s biggest companies.

Back in March, reports surfaced that the CEO of Twitter, Tesla, and SpaceX, Elon Musk, was going to build an artificial intelligence company to fight against “woke AI.” Then, in April, The Wall Street Journal discovered its name—xAI—in a Nevada filing for incorporation. Now, it’s official. Musk has revealed xAI, along with its ambitious-yet-perplexing mission: to “understand the true nature of the universe.”

After launching the company, Musk held a Twitter Spaces event on Wednesday to pontificate on his plans for the company, and his hopes to create a “maximally curious” AI.



“If it tried to understand the true nature of the universe, that’s actually the best thing that I can come up with from an AI safety standpoint,” Musk said on Twitter Spaces. “I think it is going to be pro-humanity from the standpoint that humanity is just much more interesting than not-humanity.”

 

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This isn’t Elon Musk’s first time in the ring at the AI rodeo. He was an early backer of OpenAI (creator of GPT-4 and ChatGPT) in 2015, but left the company three years later over a disagreement. In general, Musk has a somewhat confusing relationship with AI. He is extremely vocal about its world-ending possibilities, and has simultaneously celebrated and denigrated OpenAI’s ChatGPT—even going so far as to tweet about the dangers of “woke AI” this past December… whatever that means.

From there, it only gets weirder. Just this past March, Musk joined other experts in a call to pause AI development due to its potential risks to humanity. But creating a new AI company seems like a reversal of that opinion. One AI ethics expert, speaking with New Scientist, says that building yet another AI competitor only adds fuel to the fire. Musk also spoke about a working on a ChatGPT rival called “TruthGPT” a month later during an interview with ex-Fox News personality Tucker Carlson.



As reported by The Information months ago, joining Musk’s team is Igor Babuschkin, who previously worked at Google’s AI company, Deepmind. Additionally, Dan Hendrycks, who currently leads the Center for AI Safety, will serve as a consultant. Seeing as this nonprofit exists to “reduce societal-scale risks associated with AI,” that maybe provides some assurance that xAI won’t become a real-world Cyberdyne.

Other than the company’s official name, it’s perplexing mission, and its founding team—including people who’ve contributed to a variety of AI innovations including GPT-3.5 and GPT-4—we don’t know much about xAI. The company will hold another Q&A session on Twitter Spaces on Friday.

The AI race has just enter an all-new phase—only time will tell if it’ll be a terrible one.

Headshot of Darren Orf

Darren lives in Portland, has a cat, and writes/edits about sci-fi and how our world works. You can find his previous stuff at Gizmodo and Paste if you look hard enough. 



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