Just months after acquiring Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is now distracted by the newest shiny object: AI chatbots.
According to a new report(Opens in a new tab) from The Information, Musk is looking into creating an artificial intelligence research lab in order to develop his very own version of OpenAI’s incredibly successful ChatGPT. The billionaire has reportedly already reached out to AI researchers for the project.
Igor Babuschkin, a former senior AI researcher at Google’s Deepmind, is one such person that Musk contacted to lead his AI chatbot vision. Babuschkin confirmed to The Information that he had not yet agreed to work for Musk’s project.
While there are not many details yet about Musk’s potential AI project, the billionaire has been quite vocal with his criticisms of ChatGPT. Musk himself co-founded OpenAI in 2015 but has since completely cut ties with the company. He left OpenAI’s board in 2018.
“OpenAI was created as an open source (which is why I named it “Open” AI), non-profit company to serve as a counterweight to Google, but now it has become a closed source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft,” Musk tweeted(Opens in a new tab) on Feb. 17. “Not what I intended at all,” he added.
Months earlier, Musk did heap some praise on ChatGPT while also warning about its future potential.
“ChatGPT is scary good,” Musk said(Opens in a new tab) last year. “We are not far from dangerously strong AI.”
One of Musk’s primary critiques of ChatGPT, however, has been the safeguards programmed into the chatbot. For example, earlier this month, a “thought experiment” leveled at ChatGPT by a right wing writer sought to find out if the bot would deem it permissible(Opens in a new tab) to use racial slurs in order to stop a nuclear bomb. Being that the chatbot is not sentient and programmed to only answer in a certain way, ChatGPT replied that it was never okay to use a racial slur. Musk found it “concerning(Opens in a new tab)” that ChatGPT’s refused to deem this hypothetical scenario as a morally acceptable use of a racial slur.
“The danger of training AI to be woke – in other words, lie – is deadly,” Musk tweeted(Opens in a new tab) in December.
Based on Musk’s ideological reasons for acquiring Twitter, his regular interactions with right wing Twitter users, his unbanning of previously suspended far right personalities and white supremacists, and – most recently – his defense of Dilbert creator Scott Adams, it’s not hard to imagine what Musk’s intent is in looking to create his own AI chatbot.
However, according to Babuschkin, Musk wasn’t looking to create an AI chatbot in order to remove such safeguards.
Musk has seemingly confirmed that he’s at least interested in an AI project in a series of tweets on Tuesday.
Will Musk’s AI plans come to fruition? Or is this yet another instance(Opens in a new tab) of the billionaire failing to deliver? That obviously remains to be seen. But, as Gizmodo(Opens in a new tab) points out, Tesla’s investors have already pleaded with Musk to stop wasting time on Twitter while Tesla subsequently tanks in value. Yet another time-consuming project for Musk is likely the last thing they want right now.