Elon Musk, the billionaire tech entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is reportedly working on plans to launch a new artificial intelligence (AI) start-up that would compete with OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT. According to sources familiar with Musk's plans, he has assembled a team of AI researchers and engineers, and is in talks with investors in SpaceX and Tesla about funding the new venture.
The project reportedly aims to build large language models using high-powered GPU processors from Nvidia, which would enable the AI system to ingest massive amounts of content and produce human-like writing or realistic imagery. Musk has already hired a former employee of DeepMind, Igor Babuschkin, and roughly half a dozen other engineers to work on the project.
Musk's potential entry into the generative AI market is sure to raise eyebrows, particularly given that he led a letter, cosigned by thousands of other tech figures, calling for a pause on the development of GPT-style models over safety concerns. However, Musk's new venture could potentially take on OpenAI, the Microsoft-backed group he co-founded in 2015 before leaving the board three years later amid clashes with its management over attitudes to AI safety.
Musk has become increasingly vocal about his fears of broader existential threats from AI systems, and has criticised OpenAI for becoming, in his view, less transparent and too commercially minded in its pursuit of advanced AI. Musk is particularly concerned about the threat of models like GPT-4, OpenAI's latest release, to spew falsehoods and show political bias.
While the exact position of Musk's new AI venture within his corporate empire remains unclear, he has moved Twitter Inc. into a new holding company, X Corp, and has hinted that Tesla's homegrown supercomputer, Dojo, could be opened up to other companies as a service.
A Musk-backed generative AI venture would enter an increasingly crowded and well-financed market, with tech giants Microsoft, Google, and Amazon jostling with start-ups such as Anthropic, Adept, and StabilityAI, who have together raised billions of dollars in recent months. Nonetheless, Musk's track record of disruptive innovation in the tech industry suggests that this latest venture could be one to watch.