xAI Thoughts

By Mark Nuyens
4 min. read📱 Technology

Elon Musk, the renowned entrepreneur and visionary, recently launched X.ai, a company aiming to "understand the universe" using artificial intelligence. This audacious endeavor, however, raises some questions. Is Musk's definition of the universe aligned with ours, or is it skewed by his ego or some hidden agenda? After all, Musk's previous ventures, while seemingly altruistic, have also been remarkably profitable. His stated goals and the end results, as seen in his acquisition and rebranding of Twitter (now X), don't always align, raising concerns about the potential outcome of his new venture.

Musk aimed to transform Twitter into a digital "town square", a democratic platform where anyone could voice their opinions within the boundaries of the law. Unfortunately, the reality diverged from the vision. Half of its advertisers lost interest, and the platform's value plunged to half of the $40 billion Musk initially paid. What began as a well-intentioned venture spiraled into a somewhat controversial platform, where non-paying users faced censorship because of the inability to verify if they were legitimate accounts or malicious bots.

This move, while indirectly benefiting users by reducing unwanted posts, also resulted in a steep monthly fee of $10 for a platform that was formerly free. Such a significant change drove away users like me, despite understanding the economic implications behind this business model. The need to compensate for the loss of advertisers and maintain the platform's viability necessitated these changes. However, this also placed a burden on users, with the threat of being labeled as spam if they didn't pay and the risk of the platform ceasing to exist if nobody paid, leaving all its users in the lurch.

Now, Musk has turned his attention to X.ai, juggling numerous large businesses simultaneously, each demanding his focus. His new venture, even more ambitious than creating a town square, aims to use AI to uncover the mysteries of the universe. While exciting, it's necessary to remember that we're dealing with Musk, who has a history of drastically altering projects while considering the return on investment. Musk's capitalist motivations combined with his unpredictable character raise concerns about whether he is the right person to answer humanity's most profound questions.

Musk's intelligence is undeniable, but there's concern about his potential bias given his current priorities and his grudge against OpenAI, a competitor he originally founded as an open-source initiative. His frustration at OpenAI's transition from open-source to commercial is understandable, but competing with them may not be productive given their scale and pace. Musk needs to decide on his true priorities and stick to them. While adding AI to his list of achievements and exploring the universe might seem admirable, it could also be seen as overreaching.

Perhaps the expression "reach for the stars" would be more fitting for his other venture, SpaceX, rather than his new AI initiative.

Update August 15, 2023

According to several sources, users of X (Twitter) experienced a noticeable delay when using links within tweets that directed users to content critical of Musk, including sources like the New York Times. As a result, these webpages experienced slower loading times compared to others. Despite Elon not directly addressing these allegations, subsequent investigations from various sources have strongly indicated that this delay was quite likely a deliberate action.

This conduct convinces me that someone who displays a readiness to mock and stifle their adversaries might not be the most suitable individual to wield control over our lives via Neuralink or artificial intelligence. But maybe that’s just me.

Thank you for reading!