Elon Musk reportedly plans generative AI start-up to rival ChatGPT and Bard

Billionaire building a team of AI researchers and is in talks with various potential investors

Billionaire businessman Elon Musk. AP Photo
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Billionaire businessman Elon Musk is planning to announce a new generative artificial intelligence start-up to rival Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, according to a news media report on Friday.

Mr Musk is building a team of AI researchers and engineers, and he is also in talks with various investors in his other ventures, such as SpaceX and Tesla, about pumping capital into his new AI start-up, British daily newspaper Financial Times reported.

“A bunch of people are investing in it … it’s real and they are excited about it,”a person with direct knowledge of the talks said in a quote to FT.

Mr Musk, co-founder and chief executive of the world’s biggest electric vehicle maker Tesla, has ordered “thousands of high-powered GPU (graphic processing unit) processors” from technology company Nvidia, it added.

GPUs are sophisticated chips capable of running many tasks simultaneously. They're necessary in building generative AI’s large language models that can produce humanlike writing or lifelike images and videos.

Mr Musk, who cofounded 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.

Generative AI uses machine learning to produce content such as text, images, video and audio. It can generate novel content, in the right context, instead of merely analysing or acting on the existing data.

The global generative AI market is expected to reach $188.62 billion by 2032, growing at an annual rate of more than 36 per cent from $8.65 billion last year, according to a report by Brainy Insights. The North American region dominated the market in 2022.

Generative AI could also drive a seven per cent — or almost $7 trillion — increase in the global economy and lift productivity growth by 1.5 percentage points over a 10-year period, Goldman Sachs estimated.

Mr Musk has reportedly hired Igor Babuschkin, who recently left DeepMind AI, to lead a group of AI researchers in the endeavour. He is hiring engineers from top AI labs, including DeepMind, FT reported, quoting people with knowledge of his plans.

Mr Musk’s potential entry to the disruptive generative AI industry will add yet another venture to his diverse set of businesses and investments.

The Wall Street Journal also reported on Friday that Mr Musk filed paperwork to start an AI company called X.AI Corp.

He bought microblogging site Twitter for $44 billion in October. He has also cofounded $137 billion rocket maker SpaceX, a neurotechnology research company Neuralink, and founded The Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunnel construction services start-up.

Last week, he reportedly merged Twitter with one of his companies called X Corp. Although Twitter will still function as a social media platform, this could be the entrepreneur's first step towards transforming the company into an “everything app”, similar to China’s WeChat.

The FT report said that his new AI start-up will be a separate entity and he could use Twitter content as data to train its language model and harness Tesla technologies for computing resources.

Updated: April 15, 2023, 4:22 AM