Elon Musk is starting a new AI company that aims to 'understand reality'

Elon Musk at the EEI 2023 event in Austin, Texas, US, on Tuesday, June 13, 2023.
(Image credit: Bloomberg (Getty Images))

With Twitter in ruins, the SpaceX Starship program grounded, and Tesla facing renewed scrutiny over the dangers of its Autopilot software, Elon Musk has now set his sights on his next big venture: an AI company whose stated goal is nothing less than to "understand reality."

This does appear to be a serious enterprise. The team at xAI, as the company is known, is made up of veterans of DeepMind, OpenAI, Google, Microsoft, Tesla, and the University of Toronto. It's headed up by Musk, of course, and is being advised by Dan Hendrycks, director of the Center for AI Safety, the group that in May asked someone to please do something about AI before we're all totally hosed. 

(Image credit: Elon Musk (Twitter))

The xAI website says the new company is separate from X Corp, the company Musk established earlier this year as a successor to Twitter, "but will work closely with X (Twitter), Tesla, and other companies to make progress towards our mission."

Musk has previously mused about wading into the murky waters of artificial intelligence: in April, he said he was working on TruthGPT, which he described as "a maximum truth-seeking AI that tries to understand the nature of the universe." We weren't entirely certain how serious he was at the time, but apparently he's more committed to his AI plan than he was to buying Twitter.

While the xAI leadership team seems like it's mostly a collection of respectable figures in the field, Musk himself is unsurprisingly sending what could politely be called mixed signals in that regard. 

(Image credit: Elon Musk (Twitter))

The xAI website says interested followers will be able to "meet the team and ask us questions" in a Twitter Spaces chat set for July 14. As for why Musk revealed the company today, three days ahead of the big online showcase, apparently it's for essentially the same reason he insisted on SpaceX launching Starship on April 20 despite the fact that systems weren't fully ready: He thought it would be clever.

(Image credit: Elon Musk (Twitter))
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.