Elon Musk reveals plan to use AI to reveal mysteries of the universe

‘Where are the aliens?’ the billionaire asks

Anthony Cuthbertson
Friday 14 July 2023 04:58 BST
(Getty Images)

Elon Musk has launched a new AI company that aims to “understand reality” and unlock the secrets of the universe.

The formation of xAI brings together researchers from leading artificial intelligence firms, including Google’s DeepMind, OpenAI and Microsoft Research, who collectively have contributed to major advances in AI in recent years.

Announcing the launch on Twitter on Wednesday, Mr Musk gave further details about what he hoped to achieve with his latest venture.

“I often wonder where consciousness starts, as we progress from one cell to ~35 trillion cells,” Mr Musk wrote.

“If the Standard Model is correct, then quarks and leptons become ‘conscious’ no later than ~13.8B years from start, assuming there are no sentient aliens. Btw, where are the aliens!?”

Mr Musk has warned for months about AI’s potential for “civilizational destruction,” arguing that a race among companies such as Google and Microsoft to develop the technology should be halted to allow time for drafting regulation for the sector.

The reason for the launch of xAI is “to understand the true nature of the universe,” said Mr Musk, who also co-founded OpenAI but later left the startup credited with sparking the generative AI frenzy through its launch of the ChatGPT chatbot.

Dan Hendrycks, who serves as the director of the Center for AI Safety, a nonprofit that aims to reduce the risks posed by the technology, will be an adviser to xAI.

The startup’s team includes several former engineers and scientists from Alphabet-owned Google, Microsoft and OpenAI.

“We have worked on and led the development of some of the largest breakthroughs in the field including AlphaStar ... GPT-3.5, and GPT-4,” the startup said on its website.

The company, which is looking for experienced engineers and researchers to join its team as technical staff in the Bay Area, will hold a Twitter Spaces event on 14 July.

Mr Musk’s startup will work closely with his other companies including Twitter and Tesla, according to the website.

Tesla shares showed little reaction to the news and were trading 1.5 per cent higher, a sign that investors were not worried the startup will be a potential distraction for Mr Musk.

The billionaire in March registered a firm named X.AI Corp, incorporated in Nevada, according to a state filing. The firm lists Musk as the sole director and Jared Birchall, the managing director of Musk’s family office, as a secretary.

Mr Musk has previously warned of the existential risk posed by advanced AI, claiming that it is one of the most serious threats to the future of humanity.

Earlier this year, he joined more than 1,000 tech leaders and researchers in signing an open letter urging a moratorium on the development of powerful AI.

Additional reporting from agencies

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