Elon Musk assembling a team with former Google engineer to develop rival to ChatGPT

Generative AI is rapidly gaining traction for the tasks it can accomplish

A ChatGPT prompt is shown on a device in Brooklyn, New York. AP
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Twitter chief executive Elon Musk is reportedly assembling a team, which includes a former engineer at a unit of Google parent Alphabet, to develop a rival to OpenAI's text-based chatbot ChatGPT.

Mr Musk is in discussions with Igor Babuschkin, who recently left DeepMind AI, to lead a group of artificial intelligence researchers in the endeavour, The Information reported on Monday.

Recruitment has been going on "in recent weeks", and Mr Babuschkin has yet to officially accept Mr Musk's offer, the report said, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter.

It is unclear whether any of the other persons who have been approached have signed up so far.

Mr Musk, who co-founded the California-based start-up OpenAI in 2015, left its board in 2018 following disagreements with the company's direction.

He has also been critical of the company in recent months, arguing that OpenAI is placing several safety nets to prevent ChatGPT from offering results that might be divisive or offend its users.

His comments imply that the chatbot he plans to build might have less restrictions, The Information said.

ChatGPT was launched by the start-up OpenAI in November and quickly gained popularity as it can generate written content with a simple request within seconds.

It hit the 1 million user mark in one week, surpassing Instagram to become the fastest app to do so.

Last month, technology company Microsoft announced the third phase of its long-term partnership with OpenAI through a new multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment.

The agreement follows Microsoft’s previous investments in the company in 2019 and 2021.

It aims to accelerate artificial intelligence breakthroughs to ensure the benefits are broadly shared with the world, Microsoft said.

Microsoft did not disclose the exact dollar amount of the investment, but reports said the amount could be nearly $10 billion.

Generative AI can produce various kinds of data, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, 3D objects and videos.

While it takes cues from existing data, it is also capable of generating new and unexpected outputs, according to GenerativeAI.net.

On the other hand, the technology has also garnered negative feedback.

For example, Microsoft's Bing chatbot, which was developed in co-operation with OpenAI, was found to have tendencies to be testy and even threatening as it mimics what it learns from online conversations, academics and experts said earlier this month.

Disturbing conversations with the AI chatbot went viral, which included desires to create a virus, steal nuclear codes or even to be alive.

Google, meanwhile, unveiled its own conversational AI service, Bard, earlier this month, which it said would create innovative ways to engage with information, from language and images to videos and audio.

However, days later, Bard made an error in a promotional video during the company's Live in Paris event, causing $100 billion to be wiped-off Google's market value.

It is unclear how much Mr Musk, who reclaimed the title of the world's richest person on Monday, is willing to invest in his chatbot venture. He paid $44 billion to acquire Twitter last year.

"Conservational AI is currently in its early stages of monetisation and costs remain high as it is expensive to run," Swiss bank UBS said in a note.

Updated: February 28, 2023, 8:31 AM