What Is xAI? Elon Musk Reveals New Startup To Rival OpenAI

The billionaire is building a new AI startup to rival OpenAI - a company he co-founded eight years ago.

Despite a packed schedule of obnoxious tweeting, lawsuits, and organizing a cage match with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk has found time to launch a new AI company called xAI.

Initially pinned as a generative AI startup for Twitter when it first hit the headlines back in April, the xAI website seems to suggest that the new startup will remain separate from the social media platform, as well as Musk’s collection of other technology companies.

The billionaire SpaceX chief certainly knows how to build an AI company, having co-founded ChatGPT owner OpenAI back in 2015, only to sell his stake three years due to a perceived conflict of interest with his electric vehicle company Tesla.

xAI: What We Know so far

xAI, as the company’s website states, has been set up to “understand the true nature of the Universe”. The one-page site includes very little information other than a list of current team members, all of whom are male.

According to Ars Technica, back in April, Musk secured a range of Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) from computer hardware behemoth Nvidia, necessary for building the large language models that power chatbots like Bard and ChatGPT.

The xAI website states that xAI will operate as a separate company from X Corp, “but will work closely with X (Twitter), Tesla, and other companies to make progress towards our mission”.

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The site also says that xAI is “actively recruiting experienced engineers and researchers” in the San Francisco Bay and includes a sign-up form.

“Due to the number of applications we receive, we don’t have the capacity to respond to every individual application” the form reads. “If we would like to learn more about your skills and experience, we will be in touch within 3 weeks of receiving the application.”

Twitter Spaces Event Reveals More About xAI

Musk hosted a Twitter Spaces event this week, during which he discussed the new AI project in more detail.

In the event, Musk said he wanted to create a “maximally curious” artificial intelligence system, that would be “pro-humanity” in the sense that human existence is much more interesting than “non-humanity” – or in other words, human destruction.

The comments allude to the billionaire’s previously-expressed fears regarding the rapid pace of development of AI systems. Another Twitter Spaces event is set to be held on July 14th and will feature further discussion of the project.

Musk was one of several signatories who signed a letter demanding a research pause – which was published just two weeks after the billionaire registered the firm name “X.AI Corp” in Nevada, according to business records seen by the Financial Times.

Will xAI Rival OpenAI?

Bankrolled by Microsoft and following the release of ChatGPT, OpenAI has become the most well-known company developing artificial intelligence systems (specifically chatbots) on the planet.

Although the market has a number of interesting players – with DeepMind being the other clear frontrunner – but they rely heavily on funding Google, as do OpenAI from Microsoft. Google has also bankrolled Anthropic, an AI startup that just released Claude 2, another ChatGPT alternative.

Musk certainly has the capital, experience with AI companies – and now the hardware – to build a model capable of competing with the likes of ChatGPT and Bard.

Viewed through an optimistic lens, his public comments thus far suggest an ethical, reasoned approach to generative AI – two things that seem absent from his recent decision-making on social media and in the Threads vs Twitter war in particular.

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Written by:
Aaron Drapkin is Tech.co's Content Manager. He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol six years ago. Aaron's focus areas include VPNs, cybersecurity, AI and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, Cybernews, Lifewire, HR News and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, ProPrivacy, The Week, and Politics.co.uk covering a wide range of topics.
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