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Elon Musk’s Battle for the Soul of AI

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We just got a never-before-seen look at how Elon Musk plans to control the future of AI.

It comes from an adapted excerpt of Walter Isaacson’s biography, Elon Musk. And it reveals previously unknown details about how—and why—Musk plans to shape AI development moving forward.

Why it matters:

Love him or hate him, what Elon Musk does related to AI (and technology development in general) has a monumental impact on innovation, industries, and markets.

And now, Musk believes it's probable we will soon develop superintelligent AI that could cause human extinction if not guided carefully.

This belief is causing him to make major AI moves across his companies, moves that will both impact how AI is developed and how fast.

Connecting the dots:

In Episode 63 of the Marketing AI Show, Marketing AI Institute founder/CEO Paul Roetzer broke down for me what’s going on behind the scenes here.

  1. Musk has a long history of involvement in AI. For more than a decade, Musk has been seriously involved in AI and AI safety issues, says Roetzer. Today, AI forms the backbone of his main companies, including Tesla, SpaceX, and Neuralink. And in this time, Musk has been vocal—and active—regarding the risks AI could pose to humanity if it becomes sufficiently powerful and insufficiently controlled.
  2. That involvement came with some bad blood. Musk tried to stop Google from acquiring DeepMind (unsuccessfully), citing worries that a single tech giant would control the future of AI. He then teamed up with Sam Altman to start OpenAI as a non-profit lab. The two fell out over OpenAI’s direction. Musk was unhappy that OpenAI pivoted to a closed model that was unfriendly to transparent AI development.
  3. Today, he’s taken matters into his own hands. Musk is now focused on baking next generation AI into his companies. That includes his newest acquisition, X (formerly Twitter). X’s data represents billions of conversations that Musk plans to use as training data for AI. Tesla's fleet of camera-enabled vehicles also provides loads of visual data to possibly fuel AI. He’s recently created an overarching AI company called xAI (staffed, among others, by a former DeepMind employee) to further integrate these AI efforts.
  4. And it all fits into his master plan. For a very long time, Musk has consistently said his goal is to make humanity a multi-planetary species. He plans to do that both by getting humanity to Mars and reducing the risk of threats that could wipe out life on Earth before we get there. Through xAI and his other companies, he aims to create an AI system focused on truth, reason, and problem-solving as guiding principles, so that AI doesn’t escape human control and create one such existential risk.

What to do about it:

Pay attention.

“The interrelationships between all these key players in AI matter,” says Roetzer. “Because they're all affecting the decisions that are going to be made that are going to drive the future of technology and business and society and education.”

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