Elon Musk, known for his interest in developing alternative AI technologies, has announced the formation of a new venture called xAI. Its primary objective is to “understand the true nature of the universe” through the development of an alternative to the popular ChatGPT artificial intelligence chatbot.
xAI, unveiled through a website on Wednesday, will be led by Musk himself and staffed by executives with extensive experience in artificial intelligence from prominent companies such as Google’s DeepMind, Microsoft Corp., Tesla Inc., and academic institutions like the University of Toronto.
Musk, who was previously involved in the creation of OpenAI, a renowned AI startup responsible for ChatGPT, has been critical of the organization since stepping down from its board in 2018. He particularly expressed concerns after OpenAI established a for-profit division, suggesting it was “effectively controlled by Microsoft,” which invested around $13 billion in the company.
Despite his involvement in AI, Musk has consistently voiced reservations about the technology. In March, he joined a group of researchers and industry leaders in calling for a temporary halt to the training of powerful AI models.
The xAI website currently lists 12 individuals, including Musk, involved in the project. Notable names include Jimmy Ba, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto who studied under AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton, and Christian Szegedy, a former research scientist at Google specializing in AI.
Although Musk has been critical of San Francisco, the website reveals that xAI is actively seeking experienced engineers and researchers to join its team in the Bay Area, where most AI development has traditionally been concentrated.
In March, Musk and Jared Birchall, who manages Musk’s family office, established a business named X.AI, as per Nevada state filing records. Additionally, there were reports in April that Musk was in discussions with investors from Tesla and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. regarding potential funding for an AI startup.
xAI is receiving guidance from Dan Hendrycks, the director of the Center for AI Safety, an organization that has warned about the existential risks associated with rapid AI development. Earlier this year, the center released a cautionary letter signed by CEOs of leading AI companies, including DeepMind and OpenAI (part of Alphabet Inc.).
At present, Musk oversees six companies: Tesla, SpaceX, Twitter, Neuralink, the Boring Co., and xAI. Tesla, in its regulatory filings, has emphasized its focus on AI, robotics, and automation. The company’s website invites individuals to contribute to the development of AI through products like the “Tesla Bot” (known as Optimus) and AI interface chips for their autonomous driving software.
Musk has a history of sharing engineers between his companies, with employees from Tesla, for instance, offering their expertise to assist at Twitter after Musk acquired the platform for $44 billion in October.
While xAI is presented as a separate entity from X Corp, the parent company that recently merged Twitter into its operations, the website indicates that xAI will work closely with X (Twitter), Tesla, and other affiliated companies.