Elon Musk launches new AI startup, says will work closely with Tesla

Elon Musk announced the launch of a new artificial intelligence startup, xAI, with the goal of “understanding the universe.”

Why is it relevant to Electrek? He says that the new startup will “work closely” with Tesla.

For months, it has been well-known that Musk has been working on launching his own AI startup.

Today, the man who is already the leading force behind five major companies announced the launch of xAI.

Musk made the announcement (unsurprisingly) through Twitter:

On the company’s website, the startup claims to have the ambitious goal of understanding the true nature of our universe:

The goal of xAI is to understand the true nature of the universe.

The company is listing a dozen employees, mostly from the University of Toronto, Google, Open AI, and Tesla:

Ross Nordeen was a technical program manager in Tesla’s supercomputing and machine learning group until recently.

On its website, xAI says that it will “work closely” with Twitter, Tesla, and other companies:

We are a separate company from X Corp, but will work closely with X (Twitter), Tesla, and other companies to make progress towards our mission.

It’s not the first time that Musk has launched an AI company. OpenAI, an AI company now famous for its ChatGPT chatbot based on large language models, was originally cofounded by Musk as a nonprofit.

In 2018, Musk left OpenAI’s board and cited a potential conflict with Tesla’s own AI effort as the reason for severing ties with the company at the time. The main issue seems to be a competition for AI talent between OpenAI and Tesla – though Musk has since said that he also disagreed with OpenAI’s direction on AI safety and moving from a nonprofit organization to a for-profit.

Since then, Tesla has doubled down its efforts to build AI products – primarily to power its self-driving program but also through its Tesla Bot humanoid robot.

Musk actually went so far as to claim that Tesla has the strongest AI team in the world, saying he believes the company would “play a role in developing artificial general intelligence (AGI).”

Electrek’s Take

I know that there’s a lot of talk about an “AI bubble” right now and this being an opportunistic move, but bubble or not, I think it’s clear that AI is going to play an increasingly important role in society.

However, I think this can’t be good for Tesla. Musk went from “Tesla will play an important role in AI, and it has the best AI team in the world” to launching a new startup separate from Tesla to build the best AI team in the world.

The last time Elon got involved in starting an AI company, OpenAI, Tesla lost its top AI engineer, Andrej Karpathy, to that company.

Now Tesla has already lost another engineer to xAI.

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