Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla, and owner of social media platform Twitter, has announced the formation of a new company centered on artificial intelligence (AI) called "xAI." He revealed the company's launch on July 12, stating that its primary mission is to "understand reality." During a live Twitter Spaces session on July 14, Musk shared his vision for xAI, revealing plans for collaboration with Tesla on both the "silicon front" and the "AI software front." Moreover, he disclosed that xAI would leverage Twitter data to train their AI systems and develop "maximally curious" products.
While xAI is considered a distinct entity from X Corp/Twitter, the company's website emphasizes a collaborative approach, aiming to work closely with various companies in pursuit of its mission. The xAI team consists of talented individuals with backgrounds in prominent AI ventures like Tesla, OpenAI, and Microsoft. Comprising 12 members, including: Igor Babuschkin, Manuel Kroiss, Yuhuai (Tony) Wu, Christian Szegedy, Jimmy Ba, Toby Pohlen, Ross Nordeen, Kyle Kosic, Greg Yang, Guodong Zhang, and Zihang Dai. The team boasts expertise in developing AI models such as AlphaCode, Inception, GPT-3.5, GPT4, and Minerva.
Co-founder Greg Yang highlighted xAI's ambitious goal to "develop the 'theory of everything' for large neural networks," he wrote in a Twitter statement. Yang further emphasized their focus on the mathematical foundations of deep learning, a crucial aspect of AI, with the aim to provide better understanding of the mathematical universe for everyone.
Elon Musk's stance on AI has been mixed. While he believes AI will be vital to Tesla's future, he has also expressed concerns about its potential impact on humanity. In the past, Musk signed a letter urging a temporary halt to AI training in the industry. Despite his reservations, Musk expressed hope that xAI would grow an AI in a way that benefits humanity and fosters curiosity and truth-seeking, making the AI pro-humanity. "I think I have been banging the drum on AI safety now for a long time. If I could press pause on AI or advanced AI digital superintelligence, I would. It doesn’t seem like that is realistic," said Musk during the Twitter Spaces discussion. “So xAI is essentially going to build an AI, you know, you’ve got to grow an AI in a good way, hopefully."
Regarding the question of programming morality into AI, Musk voiced concerns about the complexity of such an undertaking. He emphasized the importance of fostering humanity rather than attempting to impose explicit moral programming, citing the potential for unintended consequences. “[...] The premise of an AI is to sort of have an AI that is maximally curious, maximally truth-seeking, and, this may get a little esoteric here, but I think that a curious AI, one that is trying to understand the universe, I think I want it to be pro-humanity from the standpoint that humanity is just so much more interesting than not-humanity," said Musk. “Obviously, I’m a big fan of Mars and that we should become a spacefaring civilization, and a multi-planet species, but Mars is quite frankly boring relative to Earth. It’s a bunch of rocks, and there’s no life that we’ve detected, not even microbial life. But Earth, with the vast complexity of life that exists, is vastly more interesting than Mars."
"You just learn a lot more with humanity being there, and, I think fostering humanity, if you are trying to understand the true nature of the universe, that’s the best thing that I can come up with from an AI safety standpoint," he said. “[...] I think this is better than trying to explicitly program morality into AI. because if you program in a certain morality, you have to say well what morality are you programming? Who’s making those decisions? And even if you are extremely good with how you program morality, there’s still a morality, inversion problem. This is sometimes called the Waluigi problem, which is if you program Luigi, you inherently get Waluigi by inverting Luigi," he explained. "Haha, to use Super Mario metaphors. I mean this is starting to get quite esoteric, but hopefully, this makes some sense."
Acknowledging the immense power of digital superintelligence, Musk admitted to being cautious about entering the AI space. He pondered the significance and relevance of human existence in a world where AI surpasses human capabilities. “[...] I could talk about this for a long time, it’s something that I’ve thought about for a really long time and actually was somewhat reluctant to do anything in this space because I am concerned about the immense power of a digital superintelligence. It’s something that, I think is maybe hard for us to even comprehend."
“Even if AI is extremely benign, the question of relevance, perhaps, comes up. If it can do anything better than any human, what’s the point of existing? That is also an issue? Do we even have relevance in such a scenario? That’s the bad side of it. The good side, obviously, is that in an AI future where you really will have… an age of plenty where [...] there will be no shortage of goods and services. Any scarcity will be simply scarcity that we self-define as scarcity. It could be a unique piece of art or a house in a specific location. It's artificially defined scarcity but goods and services will not be scarce in a positive AGI future. But I think it's also important for us to worry about a terminator future in order to avoid a terminator future," said Musk. Nevertheless, he remained optimistic about the potential for a positive AI future, envisioning a world of abundance and the eradication of scarcity in a benign AI scenario because AI would be able to give humanity ideas to solve the world's greatest problems more efficiently. Listen to the full discussion in the tweet linked below.
xAI's launch marks Musk's latest venture into the world of AI, and as he acknowledged, it will be some time before it rivals the scale of industry giants like OpenAI, Microsoft AI, or Google DeepMind. While the company's mission holds great promise for advancing AI technology, the world will watch closely as xAI embarks on its journey towards unraveling the mysteries of reality and the universe. As the technology evolves, the responsible and ethical development of AI will undoubtedly remain at the forefront of global discussions.
Thanks, this is helpful— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 15, 2023
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Featured Images Source: Logo by xAI & Galaxy by NASA, edited by Tesmanian.com.
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.