Musk vs. machines: Elon’s love-hate relationship with AI
Elon Musk has made headlines multiple times whenever it comes to AI but started his own AI company and bot Grok. Here is a complete timeline of this love-hate relationship with AI.
Artificial intelligence has been crowned with the title of "word of the year" in 2023. While AI has been a hot topic recently, the Tesla owner and Billionaire have had long battles and clashes with AI.
Speaking at MIT in 2014, Musk said AI is humanity’s “biggest existential threat” but his arguments are making sense now as rapid adoption of artificial intelligence is taking place with tech companies racing to make a better one.
But does Elon hate AI or believe that it can become superior to humans? Here's a short timeline of Musk's relationship with AI.
When Elon red-flagged AI
Back in 2012, when apocalypse news made big headlines, Elon Musk met Demis Hassabis- an AI researcher and video game designer who co-founded DeepMind. At that time, DeepMind worked to design a computer that thinks like a human.
Musk discussed why he was building rockets to go to Mars and save human civilisation in case there's an asteroid strike, world war or other apocalyptic event. However, Hassabis told Elon to add AI to his list of potential threats which stuck with him.
He later invested $5 million in DeepMind to keep tabs on what it was doing. In 2014, when Google tried to acquire DeepMind, Elon disagreed but his efforts went in vain as the acquisition took place. While Larry Page (former Google CEO) had assured Elon by making a "safety council" with members such as Reid Hoffman, it was "bullshit" according to Musk.
Tesla's owner took matters into his own hands and started to raise questions about the safety and regulation of artificial intelligence. He even discussed this in a one-on-one meeting with Barack Obama in 2015 but he knew he had to do something bigger to stop Google from dominating the AI market.
Launching OpenAI to Combat Google
To counter Google's control over AI, Elon joined hands with software enthusiast and entrepreneur Sam Altman. They decided to co-found OpenAI- a non-profit artificial intelligence research lab. Elon and Altman agreed to make software that would be open source and try to compete against big corporations taking control of AI.
However, in 2018, all went downhill when Elon exited the company after his proposal to run the startup was rejected. With low capital and support, OpenAI turned into a for-profit firm from a nonprofit. After that, tech giant Microsoft gave $1 billion to OpenAI which helped the company make AI products such as ChatGPT and image generator DALL-E.
This entire course of events made Elon furious. He took to X (formerly Twitter) to express his disappointment with how things were going. On Feb 17, he tweeted “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.”
Elon's new AI venture: Grok
Despite his strong negative views around the rise of artificial intelligence products, X (formerly Twitter) owner started his own AI company xAI in March this year. It is important to note that Elon has been very critical of AI products made by big tech firms like Microsoft and Google.
He also slammed ChatGPT for AI bias and said he would build "TruthGPT". As a result, Elon released the first product of xAI- Grok on Saturday. Akin to ChatGPT and other AI bots, Grok is another LLM-based generative AI chatbot but more sarcastic.
It would be interesting to see how Grok competes with other AI bots in the future as Elon claims it to be one of the best in some important aspects.
As the gears of technology keep turning, Elon Musk's dance with artificial intelligence continues to captivate. The story unfolds, and so does the future of AI. Stay tuned for more twists in this ever-evolving narrative.