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Musk Unveils New AI Startup

It has a team of top researchers but a vague mission.

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

Elon Musk is finally starting to talk about the artificial intelligence company he founded to compete with ChatGPT-maker OpenAI.

The startup, xAI, formally launched on Wednesday and its goal "is to understand the true nature of the universe." It hasn't said much more than that.

Led by Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX who also owns Twitter, the new startup centered in the San Francisco Bay Area has hired a group of top AI researchers who formerly worked at OpenAI, Google, Microsoft and Tesla.

It will be independent from Twitter's new parent company, X Corp., but will work closely with that company, as well as Tesla, "to make progress towards our mission," according to a statement.

Musk was a co-founder and early funder of OpenAI who parted ways with the San Francisco-based research lab several years ago. He's grown increasingly critical of OpenAI as it's gained global prominence and commercial success with last year's release of ChatGPT and solidified its financial ties to Microsoft.

The public unveiling of xAI follows comments Musk made about it in April to then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Musk told Carlson that OpenAI's popular chatbot had a liberal bias and that he planned an alternative that would be a "maximum truth-seeking AI that tries to understand the nature of the universe."

The startup reflected Musk's long-voiced concerns about a future in which AI systems could present an existential risk to humanity.

The idea, Musk told Carlson, is that an AI that wants to understand humanity is less likely to destroy it.

Musk was one of the tech leaders who earlier this year called for AI developers to agree to a six-month pause before building systems more powerful than OpenAI's latest model, GPT-4. Around the same time, he had already been working to start his own AI company, according to Nevada business records.

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