Elon Musk Is Rooting for ‘Safe’ Superintelligence at Startup xAI

Elon Musk’s new startup is “definitely in competition” with OpenAI, the billionaire said on Friday during a discussion on Twitter Spaces.

| Updated on: Jul 15 2023, 07:38 IST
5 Tech Titans who reacted to Twitter-killer Threads - Jack Dorsey to Elon Musk, check it out
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1/7 On their part, Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, posted this note on the Threads app, “Here we go. We have lots of work to do, but we’re looking to build an open, civil place for people to have conversations.” (REUTERS)
elon musk
2/7 At the same time, Meta Platforms CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said, "Our vision is to take the best parts of Instagram and create a new experience for text, ideas, and discussing what's on your mind.” (AP)
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3/7 Elon Musk - While Musk did not directly talk about the Threads app, the Twitter chief took a dig at Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s comment about how Twitter runs, saying, “It is infinitely preferable to be attacked by strangers on Twitter than indulge in the false happiness of hide-the-pain Instagram.” Musk also responded to a meme with a laughing emoji on Twitter which showed a keyboard with copy-and-paste buttons, implying that Threads was just a copycat of Twitter. (REUTERS)
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4/7 Jack Dorsey - The former Twitter CEO and current co-founder of Bluesky Social mocked the similar interface of several Twitter alternatives in a tweet. He wrote, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 7 Twitter clones.” (REUTERS)
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5/7 Bill Gates - Announcing his arrival on the new microblogging platform, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wrote on Threads, “I’m excited to jump into @threadsapp,” while also sharing a GIF of him jumping over a chair. (REUTERS)
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6/7 Carl Pei - Nothing co-founder and CEO Carl Pei has also joined Threads. In his first post, he wrote, “I don’t know if Threads is going to make it or not, but at least it has closed the door for Bluesky.” (Bloomberg)
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7/7 M.G. Siegler - In a tweet, M.G. Siegler, general partner at Google Ventures wrote about Threads, “Sort of strange that Instagram is about to launch Threads to try to eat Twitter just as Retro is starting to eat Instagram Stories…” (Google Ventures)
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The plan is “to build a good AGI with the overarching purpose of just trying to understand the universe,” Musk said. (REUTERS)

Elon Musk's new startup is “definitely in competition” with OpenAI, the billionaire said on Friday during a discussion on Twitter Spaces. Musk's artificial intelligence company, xAI, is his latest salvo against OpenAI, currently the buzziest and best-funded player in the fast-growing industry.

During the discussion, Musk and staffers of his new startup spoke in lofty terms about the mission of xAI. Though it does not yet have any products, the startup unveiled a new website this week, and has the goal of safely developing artificial general intelligence, or AGI.

The plan is “to build a good AGI with the overarching purpose of just trying to understand the universe,” Musk said. Later, he added, “I guess you could reform the xAI mission statement as: ‘What the hell is really going on?' That's our goal.”

The concept of AGI, technology able to understand or learn tasks that humans can, has delighted and terrified scientists — even though it's still only theoretical. On Friday, Musk's new employees were bullish on the technology. Greg Yang, a former Microsoft Corp. engineer, compared the current state of AI development to the invention of quantum physics and general relativity.

At times during the conversation, some of Musk's statements bordered on the outlandish. “Why is there not massive evidence of aliens?” he asked at one point.

Musk has had a famously hot-and-cold relationship with artificial intelligence. In 2015, he co-founded OpenAI, then a few years later left its board, and has criticized the company. In March, the billionaire added his name to a call for a six-month pause on some AI development — then less than six month later, he officially launched xAI.

The 12 early staffers of xAI, including Musk, are all men and all have a background in the industry. A majority previously worked at Alphabet Inc.'s Google and DeepMind in some capacity.

One concern in the industry has been the relative concentration of AI research. One xAI staffer — Kyle Kosic, formerly of OpenAI — said he was looking forward to more competition in the field. “The reason I'm particularly excited about xAI is that I think the biggest danger of AI is monopolization by a couple of entities,” Kosic said.

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First Published Date: 15 Jul, 07:38 IST