Billionaire Elon Musk has officially launched his own AI company, xAI with a stated goal to “understand the true nature of the universe”.
The xAI website is sparse on details about how exactly Musk’s new company will achieve its lofty aims, but it does name the full 12-person team – which appears to be all-male – and features people who have worked with the likes of OpenAI, Google, and Microsoft on their AI programs.
In a Twitter Spaces chat on Thursday, Musk repeated his science fiction informed belief that an artificial superintelligence could destroy humanity, adding that xAI would try to “grow” a “maximally curious AI”.
He described this sort of AI as “one that is trying to understand the universe” which Musk said would be “pro-humanity” because of the simple claim that this non-existent artificial mind would view humanity as “much more interesting than not-humanity”.
The company website explicitly states that xAI is separate to Musk’s X Corp “but will work closely with X (Twitter), Tesla, and other companies”.
One of the initial 12-person team behind xAI is researcher Greg Yang who said the company is building an AI that “will enable everyone to understand our mathematical universe in ways unimaginable before”.
Centre of AI Safety director Dan Hendrycks is listed as an advisor to xAI. The Centre of AI Safety is an organisation that promotes the long-termist ideology whose proponents place greater moral value on the lives of hypothetical humans who might one day come to occupy a vast face-faring civilisation than on people living today.
Musk said he believes an AI built to be ‘curious’ would naturally be “better than trying to explicitly program morality into AI”.
“If you program a certain morality, you have to say what morality you are programming – who’s making these decisions?” Musk opined.
A day earlier, the Tesla CEO promoted an interview between former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and self-proclaimed misogynist Andrew Tate who was arrested in Romania late last year on rape and human trafficking charges.
Announcing formation of @xAI to understand reality— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 12, 2023
Since taking over Twitter last year, Musk has openly courted the far right, overturning the permanent bans imposed on over 60,000 accounts including known neo-Nazis.
Australia’s eSafety Commissioner recently reported a surge in the number of complaints about online hate on Twitter, issuing the platform a please explain and the possible threat of fines.
Back in April, Musk spoke with Carlson – before Fox News sacked him – about creating ‘Truth GPT’ in opposition, and direct reference, to OpenAI’s immensely popular generative AI bot ChatGPT.
Musk co-founded OpenAI in 2015 but left in 2018 to avoid a conflict of interest with Tesla which has its own commercial interest in AI and robotics.
He has been highly critical of OpenAI in recent months, saying it was intended as an “open source … non-profit company” that is now “effectively controlled by Microsoft”.