What to Know About Elon Musk’s New AI Company, xAI

Elon Musk revealed the establishment of his new artificial intelligence firm, xAI, on Wednesday, expressing his desire to comprehend the genuine essence of the cosmos.

Musk reportedly discussed in April with investors from the Financial Times how his companies, SpaceX and Tesla, are financed, but he has not said how the company is funded. It is said that Musk has “purchased roughly 10,000 graphics processing units” to develop and run state-of-the-art AI systems, and xAI incorporated is reportedly based in Nevada this year.

XAI stated on its website that the AI firm will collaborate closely with X Corp., Formerly known as Twitter, and Tesla, along with other enterprises, “to advance towards our objective.” (Musk is the proprietor of Twitter.) The firm has not disclosed extensive information regarding its plans, but mentioned on its website that its team will participate in a Twitter Spaces session on July 14 to address inquiries.

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The CEOs of Anthropic, Dario Amodei, OpenAI, Sam Altman, and DeepMind, Demis Hassabis, were among the signatories. In May, a statement was released by the organization, signed by some of the top CEOs in the AI industry, as well as hundreds of AI experts and scientists. The statement emphasized that mitigating the risk of AI-induced extinction should be a global priority, alongside other societal-scale risks such as nuclear war and pandemics. The AI Safety Center, which has been highly vocal about AI safety concerns, listed Dan Hendrycks as its director and adviser. The xAI team, led by Elon Musk, includes former employees of prominent AI companies like Tesla, Microsoft, DeepMind, and OpenAI.

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GPT-4, a more powerful AI system than other systems, was put on a pause for at least 6 months of training. Elon Musk signed an open letter published by the Future of Life Institute, which called on AI companies to take a break immediately. However, Musk did not sign the statement for the AI Safety Centre.

In 2015, a consortium of investors comprising Altman, Greg Brockman, Reid Hoffman, Jessica Livingston, Peter Thiel, Amazon Web Services, Infosys, and YC Research pledged $1 billion to finance OpenAI. Musk, one of the original co-chairs of OpenAI alongside Altman, was part of this consortium. Musk has stated that he contributed $100 million of the $1 billion, although he has also mentioned the amount being half of that.

Read More: A Concise Chronology of Elon Musk Stating One Thing and Executing Another on Twitter.

Musk’s departure from OpenAI in 2018 was due to conflicts of interest as Tesla became more focused on AI. According to tweets and a blog post by Musk, he left OpenAI to prevent any conflicts of interest and to prioritize Tesla’s interests. In March, it was reported by Semafor that Musk’s proposal to assume leadership of OpenAI was rejected, leading him to walk away. Additionally, it was reported in April by The Financial Times that Musk’s departure also involved clashes with other staff and board members over OpenAI’s approach to AI safety.

Since Elon Musk left in 2018, it has been crucial for OpenAI to align its direction with Microsoft’s. OpenAI and Microsoft have formed a close partnership, with OpenAI receiving grants from Microsoft to use their cloud computing capacity for artificial intelligence systems. It is evident that both OpenAI and Microsoft are for-profit organizations, and currently, their source code is not open as stated by Musk in an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News in April.

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OpenAI has previously stated that in order to raise more funding than what is currently available, it would need to transition from being a nonprofit organization to a “hybrid” of nonprofit and for-profit. If it is legally permissible, why doesn’t everyone do it? In March, Musk tweeted that I donated approximately $100M to a nonprofit as if it were a for-profit, which has left me confused about how it became a for-profit with a market cap of $30B.

During an interview with Musk Carlson in April, he said that AI models are being trained to be politically “correct,” which he deemed as a maximum effort in seeking the truth.

Learn More: Elon Musk Is Bringing the Culture Conflicts to Artificial Intelligence.

Musk, who has frequently spoken about the risks posed by advanced AI systems in the past, also said in an interview that he founded a new AI organization to prevent “AI dystopia” and expressed concerns about the addition of another highly-resourced company to the AI ecosystem could further fuel the race to develop powerful AI systems at the expense of safety.

Learn more: The Artificial Intelligence Arms Race Is Transforming Everything.

In April, Hendrycks wrote that there are tradeoffs between competitiveness and safety, especially when sacrifices are made to appease the pressures of the race ahead. In response to reports suggesting that the emergence of a major new AI developer would likely prompt Musk to start a new AI company, he expressed concern about the pressures involved.

Musk expressed, “The existence of humanity is far more captivating than the absence of humanity.” Musk emphasized, “Considering AI safety, an AI with maximum curiosity, one that endeavors to comprehend the cosmos, will prioritize humanity.” Musk reiterated that his strategy for developing secure AI would rely on the AI’s commitment to seeking truth, as discussed in a Twitter Spaces conversation with Congressmen Ro Khanna and Mike Gallagher on Wednesday.

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In an email, Jess Whittlestone, the head of AI policy at the Centre for Long-Term Resilience, a think tank based in the United Kingdom, informed TIME that this is “a rather unconventional (and in my opinion quite inexperienced) strategy for ensuring AI safety. Assuming that this implies an AI will prioritize humanity is a significant assumption, and I am uncertain if we can clearly define what it means for an AI to be “extremely inquisitive”. Musk’s approach does not indicate that it will resolve this issue, and the primary challenge we currently face is our inability to fully comprehend these AI models or anticipate their actions, and I do not perceive any solutions.”

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