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Today, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced on his social platform X that his new artificial intelligence venture xAI will launch its first model on Saturday, November 4, 2023 to a select group of users.
Musk incorporated xAI in Nevada earlier in March and formally announced its entry into the AI space in July, with a goal to “understand the true nature of the universe.”
While the details of its first product remain under wraps, Musk said xAI’s first AI product will be “the best that currently exists” in some very important respects.
The proclamation and lack of further details are classic Musk — the multi-company owner is known for hyping his newest ventures vaguely before release — and the timing is notable too, coming just days before the leading consumer-facing dedicated AI company, ChatGPT-maker OpenAI, hosts its first DevDay on November 6. Open AI Co-Founder and CEO Sam Altman has already indicated on X that DevDay will include exciting new product announcements.
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Infamously, Musk-cofounded OpenAI with Sam Altman in 2015, but the two had a falling out, Musk divested from OpenAI, and now seeks to compete with the company by offering his own rival products through xAI.
Business partners turned rivals
Reportedly, Musk wanted to take the helm at OpenAI back in 2018 because he thought it was lagging behind Google back then. Altman and the other founders disagreed and Musk parted ways with the company but still claims credit for starting it.
Since then, OpenAI transitioned from a non-profit organization to a capped-profit organization, drew massive investments from Microsoft, and launched its GPT and DALL-E line of AI foundation models, cementing its position as the market leader in generative AI by users, and likely, revenue.
Thanks to its investment, Microsoft was also able to pack the company’s models in its own products, including Edge and Microsoft 360.
Musk, meanwhile, has criticized OpenAI for transitioning to a for-profit company controlled by tech giant Microsoft and going from open to closed source. He even cut off OpenAI’s access to X’s data (formerly Twitter) for training in December 2022.
Musk’s road to ‘maximum truth-seeking AI’
Now, with the belief that he may be the only one to bring safe, ethical AI into the world, Musk is moving ahead with xAI and playing catchup with OpenAI.
The launch of the venture’s first AI model right ahead of OpenAI’s developer conference on November 6 also signals his intention to take away some traction from the upcoming event.
“I’m going to start something which I call TruthGPT or a maximum truth-seeking AI that tries to understand the nature of the universe,” Musk said in an interview with Fox News in April this year.
“I think this might be the best path to safety in the sense that an AI that cares about understanding the universe is unlikely to annihilate humans because we are an interesting part of the universe,” he added. This is the exact mission of xAI, which has roped in AI experts from DeepMind, OpenAI, Google Research, Microsoft Research, Tesla and the University of Toronto.
The Tesla boss expects that by becoming a participant in the AI race he can help humanity and deliver a competitive offering that is hopefully better than Google DeepMind, OpenAI or Microsoft. Reportedly, he is training xAI’s model on data from X as well as the Oracle Cloud.
In an X Spaces session in July, he also noted that he expects Artificial General Intelligence, a form of AI that could learn and think like humans, could become a reality roughly by 2029.
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