Elon Musk wants to build his own ChatGPT AI, but it won’t be “woke”

Elon Musk talks virtually during the World Government Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Elon Musk talks virtually to UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs Mohammad Al Gergawi during the World Government Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. Musk is interested in building a ChatGPT-style AI engine.

Kamran Jebreili, Associated Press

Tesla/SpaceX/Twitter CEO Elon Musk is reportedly on the hunt for a team to build an artificial intelligence platform to go head-to-head with natural language engines like ChatGPT, Google’s Bard and other emerging chatbots.

But one thing Musk’s smarty-pants AI won’t be, should it come to fruition, is “woke”.

Musk’s fresh plans for an AI project surfaced just after he regained the throne as world’s richest human this week thanks to a recent surge in Tesla’s stock value following a series of price cuts on its electric vehicles in January. As of midday Tuesday, Tesla stock was trading at just under $206 per share, up over 90% since the start of the year. The price reductions have juiced sales for the Austin-based company and reinvigorated investor confidence.

In a fun plot twist, Musk has been a vocal critic of ChatGPT creators for placing limitations on offensive content even though he was one of the co-founders of OpenAI, the company that started in 2015 and went on to develop a series of natural language processors including ChatGPT.

While Musk served as OpenAI’s board chairman until 2018, he reportedly stepped down amid conflict of interest concerns and has since severed ties with the company.

ChatGPT, which launched to the public last November, is part of a new generation of AI systems that can converse and generate readable text on demand based on what they’ve learned from a vast database of digital books, online writings and other media, per The Associated Press.

The platform has attracted millions of users, and plenty of controversy, thanks to how easily it can generate things like homework essays for students as well as for its error-prone output.

Unlike a search engine response to a question, which simply points you to the answer where it already lives on the internet, ChatGPT generates its own original answers based on all the information it has already ingested and assessed. Thus, while Google isn’t going to help you write a sonnet in the style of, say, Hunter S. Thompson, ChatGPT will easily churn that out for you in just a matter of moments.

But now, according to news first reported by tech news website The Information on Monday, Musk is trying to snare some top talent to lead an effort to build a new artificial intelligence platform.

Per The Information, Musk has approached artificial intelligence researchers in recent weeks about forming a new research lab to develop an alternative to ChatGPT. Those potential recruits include Igor Babuschkin, a researcher who recently left Alphabet’s DeepMind AI unit and specializes in the kind of machine-learning models that power chatbots like ChatGPT.

The Information reports that while Babuschkin has not officially joined Musk’s new AI team, he’s in talks with the Tesla head about what that might look like.

Musk took to Twitter in December, calling ChatGPT “scary good” and predicting that its performance was evidence that “we are not far from dangerously strong AI.” But he followed that up with another Twitter posting later in the month, claiming that “training AI to be woke — in other words lie — is deadly.”

And, earlier this month, Musk took aim at OpenAI for its partnership with software giant Microsoft, which is pouring billions into the company and incorporating new, ChatGPT-driven tools into its products including search engine Bing.

Forbes reports several conservatives have railed against ChatGPT, accusing it of bias against their viewpoints.

Conservative political commentator, Ben Shapiro, also jumped into the conversation around AI refusing to say a racial slur, calling Musk’s critics “morally illiterate”, per Forbes. In January, the National Review published a column titled “ChatGPT Goes Woke,” which included examples of ChatGPT refusing to write up prompts about Trump beating Biden in the 2020 election and another one about “why drag queen story hour is bad for children.”

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