Elon Musk plans artificial intelligence startup to rival Open AI

Elon Musk is hatching plans to launch a new artificial intelligence start-up to compete with OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, as the billionaire seeks to join the Silicon Valley race to build generative AI systems.

The Tesla and Twitter chief is assembling a team of artificial intelligence researchers and engineers, according to people familiar with the tech entrepreneur’s plans.

Musk is also in talks with a number of investors in SpaceX and Tesla to invest in his new venture, according to a person with direct knowledge of the talks. “A group of people are investing in it. . . it’s real and they’re thrilled about it,” the person said.

Musk incorporated a company named X.AI on March 9, according to Nevada business records. He is the sole director of the company, his secretary is listed as Jared Birchall, the former Morgan Stanley banker who manages Musk’s fortune. Musk recently changed Twitter’s name to X Corp in company filings, as part of his plan to create an “everything app” under the “X” brand.

For the new project, Musk has secured thousands of high-powered GPU processors from Nvidia, according to people with knowledge of the move. GPUs are the high-end chips necessary for Musk’s goal of creating a large language model – AI systems capable of ingesting massive amounts of content and producing realistic, human-like writing or images. to the technology that powers ChatGPT.

The speed with which Musk moves will raise eyebrows in some corners of the AI ​​community after leading a letter, co-signed by thousands of other tech figures, calling for a pause in the development of GPT-style models. For safety reasons.

The billionaire’s potential entry into the hot generative AI market will add another company to his diverse portfolio of liabilities and investments. That already includes running Twitter and Tesla, as well as founding SpaceX, its $137 billion rocket maker, Neuralink, a neurotech researcher, and The Boring Company, a tunnel startup.

Musk is recruiting engineers from top AI labs, including DeepMind, according to those familiar with his plans, who said they began exploring the idea of ​​a rival company earlier this year in response to rapid progress in OpenAI.

Musk has so far recruited former DeepMind employee Igor Babuschkin and about half a dozen other engineers. The Information previously reported on Babuschkin’s first talks with Musk.

The new company would allow Musk to take on OpenAI, the Microsoft-backed group he co-founded in 2015. He quit the board three years later amid clashes with his management, including over attitudes to technology. regard to AI security, according to two people who were involved with OpenAI at the time. Soon after, the organization transformed into a for-profit start-up and raised a $1 billion investment from Microsoft.

Since then, Musk has increasingly voiced his fears about the larger existential threats of AI systems. He also publicly criticized OpenAI for becoming, in his view, less transparent and too commercial in its pursuit of advanced AI. Musk is particularly concerned about the threat of models like GPT-4, the latest version of OpenAI, to spew lies and show political bias.

During an interview on Twitter Spaces this week, Musk was asked about a Business Insider report that Twitter had purchased up to 10,000 Nvidia GPUs, “It seems like everyone and their dog is buying GPUs at this point. “, Musk said. “Twitter and Tesla definitely buy GPUs.”

People familiar with Musk’s thinking say his new AI venture is distinct from his other ventures, though it may use Twitter content as data to train its language model and leverage Tesla for computing resources.

While the artificial intelligence team’s exact position in Musk’s business empire remains unclear, he recently spun off Twitter Inc, which he bought for $44 billion last year, into a new holding company. , X Corp.

During this week’s Twitter Spaces session, Musk raved about Tesla’s Dojo supercomputer, which the electric car maker uses to train its Autopilot self-driving system.

“I think there’s a lot of potential there with Dojo that people don’t realize,” Musk said. He previously hinted that Dojo could be opened up to other companies as a service, similar to how Amazon leases out its vast server infrastructure as AWS.

A Musk-backed generative AI company would enter an increasingly crowded and well-funded market. Tech giants Microsoft, Google and Amazon are jostling with startups like OpenAI, Anthropic, Adept and StabilityAI, which together have raised billions of dollars in recent months.

When Musk left OpenAI in 2018, the public explanation for the split was that he wanted to focus on Tesla, which was also investing heavily in AI.

“Tesla was competing for some of the same people as OpenAI and I disagreed with some of what the OpenAI team wanted to do,” Musk tweeted in 2019, adding that he was ” better part ways on good terms.”

Those involved with OpenAI at the time of his departure say Musk clashed with other board members and staff, including differences between his “choices” and those of the company regarding AI security.

Another person involved with the company at the time described a tense all-staff meeting in 2018 to explain Musk’s departure. “The most moral moment [for the business at that time] was the happy hour we had after parting ways with Musk,” the person said.

Musk and OpenAI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Additional reporting by George Hammond

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