OpenAI co-founder Elon Musk is getting back into the AI business. His new company is called X.AI.
X.AI is registered in Nevada, with Elon Musk as sole director. Jared Birchall, who runs Musk’s family office, is registered as a secretary. As a private company, X.AI is authorized to sell 100 million shares.
“X” is Musk’s vision of an “everything app,” a single piece of software that can be used for all purposes of daily life and work, from social media to payments to, apparently, artificial intelligence. Musk also recently changed Twitter’s corporate name to X Corp. and registered the company in Nevada. Its parent company is X Holdings Corp.
Rumors that Elon Musk is working on a ChatGPT alternative surfaced back in February. Musk has reportedly set up a research lab, with former OpenAI and Deepmind researcher Igor Babushkin in a leading role. According to Business InsiderMusk has purchased thousands of graphics cards, which are typically used to train large AI models.
OpenAI and Elon Musk share history
Elon Musk was one of the co-founders of OpenAI in 2015, and for a long time was its biggest backer. He stepped down from the board in 2018, officially to avoid conflicts of interest with his AI research at Tesla.
However, according to the US website Semafor, Musk reportedly failed in his attempt to completely take over OpenAI. Musk was unhappy with the development of the start-up, which he felt had fallen behind Google in AI development.
OpenAI’s current CEO, Sam Altman, and other co-founders rejected Musk’s offer, after which Musk left the company and stopped funding it. Musk reportedly invested $100 million of a planned $1 billion in OpenAI.
Elon Musk’s love-hate relationship with AI
Since leaving OpenAI, Musk has been critical of the startup’s development. He signed the AI Pause open letter, calling OpenAI’s developments “extremely concerning” in terms of safety.
Musk is particularly concerned that OpenAI’s AI chatbots are “too woke,” or left-leaning. In mid-February, Musk called for “TruthGPT,” a model whose name implies that it tells “the truth” from Musk’s perspective, rather than, say, meeting certain public expectations.
Musk also criticized Microsoft’s heavy involvement in OpenAI, which would indirectly be taken over by the software giant. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman responded to the Wall Street Journal’s X.AI reveal on Twitter with an ironic “concerning”.
Already in the years leading up to OpenAI’s big breakthrough, Elon Musk has repeatedly expressed concern about the evolution of AI. In 2020, for example, he said that AI was on its way to becoming “vastly smarter than humans” and could reach that goal as early as 2025. From then on, he said, it would become “unstable or weird.”
“My assessment about why AI is overlooked by very smart people is that very smart people do not think a computer can ever be as smart as they are,” Musk said in an interview with The New York Times in the summer of 2020.
In 2017, Musk clashed with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg when the latter called Musk an AI denier and doomsday prophet, prompting Musk to deny Zuckerberg’s AI expertise. In the same year, Musk warned that developments in AI could lead to World War III.