Five Takeaways from Elon Musk’s 90 Minute Talk on xAI

On July 12, Elon Musk’s new artificial intelligence xAI officially announced it was open for business.

xAI is a takeoff on the term explainable artificial intelligence, which (among other features) makes AI models “more explainable, intuitive, and understandable to human users without sacrificing performance or prediction accuracy,” according to a recent Deloitte white paper on the technology.

A more humanistic and relatable AI would be of immense help to corporate financial officers.

For example, XAI can help compliance processes and outcomes be more “explainable” and “reasonably understood” by company financial staffers, Deloitte points out.

Explainable AI can also help finance professionals sift through various data models to get exactly the answer they need.

“For example, XAI techniques that shed light on a model’s functioning can be valuable for understanding relationships among variables, diagnosing poor performance, or identifying potential information leakages,” the Deloitte report states. “Collectively, these efforts are important for upholding customer protection and fair lending by:

  • Identifying model parameters that lead to disparate impact; understanding of trade-offs in model performance.
  • Developing more convincing business cases for model adoption and buy-in from management.
  • Ensuring greater trust and credibility in the model
  • Preventing any potential regulatory/compliance issues.

Elon Musk Explains His View of a More Humanistic AI

Musk’s new XAI company brings together a “who’s who” of engineering all stars from brand name technology companies like Google, OpenAI, Deep Mind, Tesla, and Twitter (now known as “X”) to create what Musk calls “a maximally curious, maximally truthful AI.”

Three days later, Musk and his team hosted a 90-minute conference call Twitter Spaces with an audience of 1.2 million. In the call, Musk pontificated on all things XAI – and xAI’s role in it.

While Musk used the Twitter Spaces event to announce it has brought aboard managers and engineers from the likes of Google and Microsoft, he hasn’t formally announced the company’s management team and hasn’t announced a new chief financial officer.

Here’s a closer look at three AI-themed big takeaways from the Twitter Spaces meet-up

A “good AGI. Musk told his audience that xAI’s goal was to use explainable AI to build a “good” artificial general intelligence (AGI) platform “with the overarching purpose of just trying to understand the universe.”

Noting the general perception of AI as a “threat” to society that could challenge the supremacy of human beings, Musk said that AI decision-makers must be careful to create and sustain a safe superintelligence that protects rather threatens humanity.

“I think to a superintelligence, humanity is much more interesting than not [having] humanity,” Musk said. “When you look at the various planets in our solar system, the moons and asteroids, and really probably all of them combined are not as interesting as humanity.”

OpenAI may actually be the real threat. It’s no secret that Musk was a co-founder of OpenAI, noting he even “came up with the name” of the company in a CNBC interview in May. He also said he invested $50 million in OpenAI, after informally committing $1 billion to the new venture.

Musk had a fallout with company executives after accusing OpenAI of being focused on profit over “safe” AI development with safeguards and rigorous regulation. That’s why he founded xAI as a counterweight to what OpenAI was doing.

“Now because fate loves irony, OpenAI is closed source and frankly voracious for profit,” Musk told the Twitter Spaces audience.

AGI should be up and running in six years. By and large, artificial general intelligence is an intelligence agent model that can learn how to complete any task that humans can accomplish.

So-called “deep learning” applications, like GPT-4, can be considered early forms of AGI even though they’re not commercially viable yet.

xAI is committed to developing AGI for commercial use with a goal and is engaged in the laboratory work that can turn the technology into a healthy, vibrant and highly useful for of artificial intelligence.

Musk thinks he can get his company’s version of AGI off the ground in the next half decade or so.

“I think that we can create a competitive alternative that is hopefully better than Google Deepmind, OpenAI or Microsoft,” Musk said on the Twitter Spaces meet-up, stating that AGI should be a “viable reality” by 2029.

xAI will work with X and Tesla to develop intelligent learning models. Musk says xAI will “work with” both of his high-profile companies to develop AGI software.

His plan is to rely on public tweets to train and fine tune artificial intelligence models and will likely join forces with Tesla to create new AI software, particularly on self-driving software.

The arrangement should “mutual benefit” all three companies, Musk noted.

“Understanding” the universe. AI can never reach its vast potential if it’s not used for knowledge development at a scale never before seen in human history. xAI wants to be in the middle of that search for knowledge.

“The overarching goal of xAI is to build a good AGI with the overarching purpose of just trying to understand the universe,” Musk said.

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