Elon Musk launches an AI company to rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT

Just weeks after signing an open letter to halt big AI experiments

Elon Musk announces X.AI
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Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk has launched a new company called “X.AI”; just weeks after signing an open letter proposing to halt AI advancement. Many people have called this move hypocritical but Musk has remained silent on the matter. In this article, we will explore the details of Musk’s latest venture and discuss the potential hypocrisy of his actions.

Elon Musk announces X.AI

An open letter was published on March 22, 2023, by Musk-funded “The Future of Life Institution” which proposed a 6-month halt on “Giant AI experiments”. Among 2000+ signees were many prominent figures including Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple), Emad Mostaque (CEO of Stability AI), and Musk himself. But just weeks after the signing, news has come out about Elon Musk’s X.AI.

The letter in question argued that Large Language Models (LLMs) and chatbots like Chat GPT were getting exceptionally good and companies were rushing to make more and more powerful models without considering much about its consequences. The letter labels these models as “Black Boxes” mostly because even the creators of the model themselves don’t exactly know how they work.

A black box emitting mysterious rays

Hence, the letter argues that even its developers can’t predict how it’s going to impact the future. As such, it demands a halt on research and development of systems more powerful than GPT-4 until we are certain that these LLMs won’t be detrimental to human society. The letter suggests we use this time to implement “robust AI governance systems”, which is an umbrella term for AI safety research, AI regulatory systems, and AI certification bodies.

What’s with the “X”?

Elon Musk’s new company shares its name with his ambitious dream of creating an “Everything” app. Musk even merged Twitter Inc. with X Corp, showing that he is serious about the matter. To start off, sources cite Musk buying 10,000 highly powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) as well as seeking to hire talent for launching an AI to compete with ChatGPT.

Musk has openly expressed his distaste for Open AI’s regulation on GPT which prevents it from generating specific text. He has also complained about its output being too “woke”. It is safe to say Musk is choosing to duke it out with industry leaders like Open AI and DeepMind instead of staying on the fence. But many find it strange for him to do so, especially so quickly after his support for the open letter.

The gray area

The strange part of all this is the timeline. Many would assume Elon Musk founded X.AI after the open letter to halt AI progress went in vain. But the truth is quite the reveal. According to the state fillings mentioned in the Wall Street Journal’s article, Elon Musk founded X.AI on March 9th, which is just days before the open letter published on the 22nd. Even when giving Musk the benefit of the doubt, it’s hard to defend this practice of preaching truce and instigating competition at the same time. This makes it clear that Musk might have had other intentions behind signing the letter than just AI safety.

Elon Musk “X.AI”: Final Words

Elon Musk’s X.AI might just be the beacon of hope for free speech in this world of regulatory “biased” AI. Or it might just be another AI hype marketing move.

Either way, signing an open letter lobbying against further development of large AI experiments while launching an AI company on the side seems like a shady thing to do. Maybe he just wanted the best for humanity or maybe he wanted a buffer for his new company to catch up to existing leaders, we will never know for sure. But what we can say for certain, is that Elon Musk’s stance on AI is hypocritical and you probably shouldn’t take his words at face value.