Musk adds yet another business to his portfolio aiming to help ‘understand reality’

The world’s richest man’s lucrative efforts to benefit mankind now include “trying to understand the universe” with his latest corporation joining the likes of Tesla, SpaceX and Neuralink.

Earlier this year, billionaire Elon Musk registered X.AI as a corporation based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, and on Wednesday he officially unveiled his latest company geared toward “growing” a new artificial general intelligence (AGI). Using his preferred communication method, the owner and one-time CEO of Twitter posted directly to his nearly 150 million followers.

“Announcing formation of @xAI to understand reality,” Musk wrote in his original tweet viewed almost 33 million times with close to 21,000 retweets within its first 72 hours.

As the buzz spread about the latest venture from the tech entrepreneur who had previously co-founded OpenAI in 2015 before leaving the AI company behind the popular chatbot ChatGPT in 2018, Musk hosted a Twitter Spaces Friday to go into greater detail about his new company.

“I guess the overarching goal of xAI is to build a good AGI with the overarching purpose of just trying to understand the universe. I think the safest AI — the safest way to build an AI — is actually make one that is maximally curious and truth-seeking,” he said before adding a goal was to “try to minimize the error between what you think is true and what is actually true.”

The billionaire went on to suggest that “growing” AI was the most apt description for how the technology would learn and that xAI would have engineers from Tesla in charge of the software and public tweets would be utilized in training the models.

With his fortune built by Tesla, Twitter, SpaceX, Boring Company and Neuralink now estimated at around $250 billion, Musk further suggested a “mutual benefit” for his companies, namely Tesla, as the AI could aid in advancing self-driving capabilities.

Earlier this year, as chatbots like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard began to be used by the public, Musk had joined industry leaders in calling for an “AI summer” to place a six-month pause on the development of next-generation AI systems in order to let society catchup.

“Contemporary AI systems are now becoming human-competitive at general tasks, and we must ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth?” the letter posited. “Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization?”

“This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium,” the letter contended.

In addition to Musk’s statements on xAI, University of Toronto professor, AI researcher and company man Jimmy Ba said of xAI’s goals, “How can we build a general purpose problem-solving machine to help all of us, humanity, overcome the most challenging and ambitious problems out there, and how can we use those tools to augment ourselves and empower.”

Kevin Haggerty

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