Elon Musk’s artificial intelligence startup xAI will release its first AI model to a select group on Saturday, the billionaire and Tesla CEO said on Friday.
This comes nearly a year after OpenAI’s ChatGPT caught the imagination of businesses and users around the world, spurring a surge in adoption of generative AI technology.
Musk co-founded OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, in 2015 but stepped down from the company’s board in 2018.
“In some important respects, it (xAI’s new model) is the best that currently exists,” he posted on his X social media platform.
“As soon as it’s out of early beta, xAI’s Grok system will be available to all X Premium+ subscribers,” Musk posted.
X, formerly known as Twitter, rolled out two new subscription plans last week, a $16 per month Premium+ tier for users willing to pay for an ad-free experience and a basic tier priced at $3 per month.
The billionaire, who has been critical of Big Tech’s AI efforts and what he calls censorship, said earlier this year he would launch a maximum truth-seeking AI that tries to understand the nature of the universe to rival Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Bing AI.
The team behind xAI, which launched in July, comes from Google’s DeepMind, the Windows parent, and other top AI research firms.
Although X and xAI are separate, the companies work closely together. xAI also works with Tesla and other companies.
Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle and a self-described close friend of Musk, said in September that xAI had signed a contract to train its AI model on Oracle’s cloud.
Elon Musk curses out advertisers who left X over antisemitism
Billionaire Elon Musk told advertisers that have fled his social media platform X over antisemitic content to “Go fuck yourself” in a fiery Wednesday interview.
His profanity-laced remarks followed a moment of contrition in a New York Times DealBook Summit interview. Musk said repeatedly he was sorry for publishing a tweet on Nov. 15 that agreed with an anti-Jewish post.
Musk has faced a torrent of criticism ever since he agreed with a user who falsely claimed Jewish people were stoking hatred against white people. Musk in his post said the user, who referenced the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, was speaking “the actual truth.”
On Wednesday Musk said he had “handed a loaded gun” to both detractors and antisemitic people, describing his post as possibly the worst he had made during a history of messages that included many “foolish” ones.
The Tesla CEO bristled at the idea that he was antisemitic and said that advertisers who left X, formerly known as Twitter, should not think they could blackmail him.
“If somebody’s gonna try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money? Go fuck yourself,” he said.
“Go. Fuck. Yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is. Hey, Bob, if you’re in the audience,” he added, in an apparent reference to Robert Iger, chief executive of Walt Disney (DIS.N), which pulled ads on X. Iger spoke earlier at the event and said that Disney felt the association with X following Musk’s move “was not a positive one for us”. A spokesperson from Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“What I care about is the reality of goodness, not the perception of it. And what I see all over the place is people who care about looking good while doing evil. Fuck them,” Musk said.
Musk’s expletives against advertisers is the “closing chapter” for brands doing business with X, said Lou Paskalis, founder of marketing consultancy AJL Advisory and the former head of global media at Bank of America. “They’re not going to forget that,” he said.
Customers who did not like him should consider the products his company make based on their quality, Musk said, pointing to electric cars from Tesla and SpaceX rockets. “I will certainly not pander,” he said.
Musk added that he himself arguably had done more for the environment, at Tesla, than anyone in the world, based on Tesla’s massive sales of electric vehicles.
“It would be fair to say, therefore, as a leader of the company, I’ve done more for the environment than everyone — any single human on Earth.”
Musk’s comments came on the same day that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned that the rise in antisemitism since the start of the Israel-Hamas war has reached a crisis point, saying it threatens the safety of Jews worldwide and the future of Israel. “To us, the Jewish people, the rise in antisemitism is a crisis. A five-alarm fire that must be extinguished,” Schumer said in an emotional, 40-minute Senate speech.
Musk’s post drew condemnation from the White House for what it called an “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate.”
The “Great Replacement” theory falsely claims that Jewish people and leftists are engineering the ethnic and cultural replacement of white populations with non-white immigrants that will lead to a “white genocide.”
Following the post, major US companies including Walt Disney (DIS.N), Warner Bros Discovery and NBCUniversal parent Comcast (CMCSA.O)suspended their ads on X. A report from liberal watchdog group Media Matters precipitated the advertiser exit, which said it found ads next to posts that supported Nazism. The platform filed a lawsuit last week against Media Matters for defamation.
Musk’s comments have put pressure on X overall, including Chief Executive Linda Yaccarino. An executive told Reuters that she would remain at the company.
Musk himself appeared resolved that X could fail financially and blamed advertisers.
“If the company fails because of advertiser boycott, it will fail because of an advertiser boycott. And that will be what bankrupt the company and that’s what everybody on earth will know,” he said. “Let the chips fall where they may.”
In the wake of the condemnation around his post, Musk traveled to Israel and toured the site of Hamas’ assault in the country on Oct. 7. On Monday, he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a live-streamed conversation on X.
Musk on Wednesday said the trip had been planned before his message and was “independent” of the issue.
Musk in Israel said he is against antisemitism and anything that “promotes hate and conflict” and stated that X would not promote hate speech. While there, he received a symbolic dog-tag from the father of an Israeli hostage taken captive by Hamas, which he promised to wear until all the hostages were free. He wore the dog-tag on stage on Wednesday.
“The fact that you came here speaks volumes of your commitment to try to secure a better future,” Netanyahu told Musk during the conversation in Israel.
Musk’s wide-ranging interview on Wednesday included discussions from freedom of speech to the environment to US presidential politics. Musk said he thought he would not vote to re-elect President Joe Biden but did not say he would vote for his likely challenger, Donald Trump.
Microsoft to take non-voting, observer position
Microsoft will take a non-voting, observer position on OpenAI’s board, CEO Sam Altman said in his first official missive after taking back the reins of the company on Wednesday.
The observer position means Microsoft’s representative can attend OpenAI’s board meetings and access confidential information, but it does not have voting rights on matters including electing or choosing directors.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who had recruited Altman to Microsoft after his ouster from OpenAI, had said earlier that governance at the ChatGPT maker needs to change.
OpenAI said last week announced a new initial board that consists of former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor as chair and Larry Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary. Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, who was part of the board who fired Altman, also stayed on for the new one.
The new OpenAI board is on an active search for six new members with expertise in fields from technology to safety and policy. OpenAI investors are unlikely to get a seat on the non-profit board, sources told Reuters.
Microsoft has committed to invest over $10 billion into OpenAI and owns 49% of the company. It did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mira Murati, who had been OpenAI’s chief technology officer and was briefly named interim CEO after Altman’s ouster, is once again the company’s CTO.
Altman’s exit sparked confusion about the future of the startup at the center of an artificial intelligence boom.
His co-founder Greg Brockman, who had followed Altman out of the company, would return as president, Altman said on Wednesday.
“Greg and I are partners in running this company. We have never quite figured out how to communicate that on the org chart, but we will,” Altman said.
OpenAI’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever will no longer be part of the board, Altman said.
Sutskever had joined in the effort to fire Altman but later signed an employee letter demanding his return, expressing regret for his “participation in the board’s actions.”
“I love and respect Ilya, I think he’s a guiding light of the field and a gem of a human being. I harbor zero ill will towards him,” Altman said, adding the company was discussing how Sutskever could continue his work at OpenAI.
Apart from Altman, Brockman, Sutskever, D’Angelo, OpenAI’s previous board consisted of entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, Helen Toner, director of strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.
Google DeepMind AI reveals potential for new materials
Google DeepMind has used artificial intelligence (AI) to predict the structure of more than 2 million new materials, a breakthrough it said could soon be used to improve real-world technologies.
In a research paper published in science journal Nature on Wednesday, the Alphabet-owned AI firm said almost 400,000 of its hypothetical material designs could soon be produced in lab conditions.
Potential applications for the research include the production of better-performing batteries, solar panels and computer chips.
The discovery and synthesis of new materials can be a costly and time-consuming process. For example, it took around two decades of research before lithium-ion batteries – today used to power everything from phones and laptops to electric vehicles – were made commercially available.
“We’re hoping that big improvements in experimentation, autonomous synthesis, and machine learning models will significantly shorten that 10 to 20-year timeline to something that’s much more manageable,” said Ekin Dogus Cubuk, a research scientist at DeepMind.
DeepMind’s AI was trained on data from the Materials Project, an international research group founded at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2011, made up of existing research of around 50,000 already-known materials.
The company said it would now share its data with the research community, in the hopes of accelerating further breakthroughs in material discovery.
“Industry tends to be a little risk-averse when it comes to cost increases, and new materials typically take a bit of time before they become cost-effective,” said Kristin Persson, director of the Materials Project.
“If we can shrink that even a bit more, it would be considered a real breakthrough.”
Having used AI to predict the stability of these new materials, DeepMind said it would now turn its focus to predicting how easily they can be synthesised in the lab.
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