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Musk’s Sinister Plans to Undermine OpenAI

Musk’s move is suspicious because he was one of the signatories of the open letter calling for a pause on giant AI experiments, particularly AI systems beyond GPT-4
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Billionaire Elon Musk has been one of the leading voices against the Generative AI storm brought on by OpenAI’s ChatGPT. But according to the latest information, Musk has created his very own Artificial Intelligence Company, called X.AI, a likely dig on AI.com, which redirects to ChatGPT. 

Nevada business records indicate that Musk incorporated the company on March 9 and is the company’s only director, with Jared Birchall, the former Morgan Stanley banker who manages Musk’s wealth, listed as its secretary. 

Meanwhile, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman was quick to take a swipe at Musk, the ex-co-founder of OpenAI, and his foray into generative AI in response to the WSJ report. This was a direct reference to Musk’s tweet expressing ‘extreme concern’ when OpenAI had released APIs. 

Evil Genius or Misunderstood Visionary?

Musk’s move is suspicious because he was one of the signatories of the ‘Pause Giant AI Experiments’ open letter released on March 22 — merely 13 days after the incorporation of X.AI Corp. The letter was signed by luminaries like Steve Wozniak, Gary Marcus, Yuval Noval Harari, other AI experts, and policy makers. It called for an immediate halt on giant AI experiments, including training AI systems beyond GPT-4, for the next six months. The foundation also introduced a set of seven policies that included third-party auditing, certification, and regulations for the AI industry. 

Although Musk was one of the first investors in DeepMind, had helped set up a $1 billion OpenAI research lab, and is often actively involved in the AI debate, “he veers wildly between openly worrying about the downside risk of the technology and then hyping the AGI agenda”,  opined an executive closely related to the AI community.

“He is sensationalist…Whilst his very real accomplishments are acknowledged, his loose remarks lead to the general public having an unrealistic understanding of the state of AI maturity,” the exec added.

These comments are not exaggerated since Musk is known to make claims like AI becoming sentient or just as smart as humans and that when it does we should all be scared as humanity’s very existence is at stake. The Tesla and SpaceX boss also thinks that AI is more dangerous than nukes. 

Was This The Plan All Along? 

Given the fact that Musk had recently purchased numerous GPUs, it’s not surprising how the news of X.AI Corp suddenly started doing the rounds days after Sam Altman at an event in MIT confirmed that GPT-5 is not in the pipeline at the moment and OpenAI is focusing on the safety issues concerning GPT-4.

As per Insider’s reports, Musk has recently purchased numerous graphics processing units for the platform, which are typically used by tech companies to work on large AI models, given the computational workload the newer technology requires. This move follows his recent hiring of Igor Babuschkin and Manuel Kroiss, both researchers from DeepMind, to develop a rival to OpenAI’s “woke” ChatGPT, just a little over a month ago. All of it is part of Musk’s plans to create an “everything app” under the brand “X” for which Musk had also recently changed the name of Twitter to X Corp in company filings.

When asked about the Business Insider report about Twitter’s 10,000 Nvidia GPUs, Musk during a Twitter Spaces interview did not deny the claims and said, “It seems like everyone and their dog is buying GPUs at this point”. “Twitter and Tesla are certainly buying GPUs,” he added. Additionally, he is reportedly in talks with investors from SpaceX and Tesla to secure funding for this venture, with several individuals expressing excitement and interest in investing in it.

People familiar with the development have revealed that Musk’s upcoming AI venture is separate from his current companies, but it might use data from Twitter to train its language model. Furthermore, Musk may consider utilising computing resources from Tesla to support this new venture.

Beware of Musk’s ‘X’ Mania

The Tesla CEO has stated in the past that the acquisition of Twitter would accelerate the creation of a project referred to as “X”, potentially advancing the timeline by three to five years. Musk has hinted at his plans to disrupt social media, mentioning “X.com”, a domain he owns, and expressing a grand vision for X as something beneficial to the world. However, it is not yet clear if Musk intends to transform Twitter into X or use it as a foundation for an entirely new platform.

Musk has drawn inspiration from Tencent’s WeChat, a comprehensive super-app in China that offers messaging, video chatting, gaming, photo sharing, ride services, food delivery, banking, and shopping, all in one platform. He has expressed interest in creating a similar app outside of China, and has even mentioned adding cryptocurrency functionality to Twitter once the platform is approved for payments. Musk sees the potential for Twitter to emulate the success of WeChat and become a multifunctional super-app, which he believes would be a significant achievement.

Although all the events until this point suggest so, it remains to be seen whether X.AI Corp is Musk’s entry into Generative AI—to take on OpenAI, Meta, Microsoft and new entrant Amazon or not.

If it is, why all the fearmongering? Or was all of it just for the cheese?

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Shyam Nandan Upadhyay
Shyam is a tech journalist with expertise in policy and politics, and exhibits a fervent interest in scrutinising the convergence of AI and analytics in society. In his leisure time, he indulges in anime binges and mountain hikes.

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