Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur behind Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter, has revealed his plans to create a new artificial intelligence (AI) company that could challenge the dominance of tech giants Google and Microsoft in the field.
Musk made the announcement at The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit in London on Tuesday, where he discussed his vision for the future of AI and its impact on society. “I think there should be a significant third horse in the race,” Musk said. “I think it's important to have diversity of thought and diversity of approach.”
He suggested that his new company could fill that gap by leveraging different parts of his corporate empire, including Twitter, which he acquired for $44 billion in October 2022. Musk did not provide many details about his possible AI venture, but he said he believes in the potential of AI to improve various aspects of human life, such as transportation, health care, and education.
Managing Risk vs Reward of AI
However, he also expressed his concerns about the risks of AI, especially if it becomes more intelligent than humans. He reiterated his call for the establishment of an independent oversight committee that could monitor and regulate the activities of AI companies and ensure their ethical and safe use.
“It's a small likelihood of annihilating humanity, but it's not zero,” he said. “I think AI has the potential to be incredibly beneficial. But I also think it has the potential to be incredibly dangerous. And I think it's important to have a company that's focused on the long term and on the benefits of AI.”
Musk has been investing heavily in AI and machine learning for his various businesses, especially Tesla, which is developing its Full-Self Driving software that aims to enable autonomous driving for its vehicles. Musk said that Tesla's software will rely on a neural network AI model that can learn from data and improve over time.
Musk's AI ambitions are not new. He has been vocal about his interest and involvement in AI for years. He co-founded OpenAI in 2015 with a mission to create artificial general intelligence (AGI), which is AI that can perform any task that a human can. He also founded Neuralink in 2016, a company that is developing brain-computer interfaces that could enable humans to communicate with machines and enhance their cognitive abilities.
Musk is Rallying Against Microsoft and OpenAI
According to The New York Times, in a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella that I reported on last week, Musk's lawyer Alex Spiro alleges that Microsoft has been using Twitter's API to access data for unauthorized purposes.
Spiro's letter states that Microsoft has been using Twitter's API to access data for “unauthorized uses and purposes.” He also alleges that Microsoft has been using Twitter's API to access data for “commercial purposes” without Twitter's consent.
Musk has also accused Microsoft of using Twitter's data to train its AI models without permission and threatened to sue the company in April. Microsoft has denied any wrongdoing and said it does not currently pay Twitter for data.
Elon Musk was a co-founder of OpenAI, the company that Microsoft invests heavily in. Alongside OpenAI, Microsoft has brought the org's GPT-4 to its service such as Office (Microsoft 365 Copilot), Bing (Bing Chat and Bing Image Creator), Microsoft Cloud (Azure OpenAI Service), CRM/ERP (Dynamics 365 Copilot), and programming (GitHub Copilot X).
Musk has expressed concern about AI and participated in the FutureOfLife initiative, which advocates for more AI controls to avoid the emergence of artificial general intelligence (AGI). The initiative's open letter urged all AI developers to halt the development of AI that might surpass GPT-4 in power for a minimum of six months.