Musk could take on OpenAI with generative AI investment

12 Apr 2023

Elon Musk. Image: Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Twitter might get an AI upgrade soon as Musk reportedly buys thousands of GPUs to develop an in-house generative AI.

Elon Musk is reportedly making big investments in generative AI for Twitter to compete with OpenAI.

According to a Business Insider report, Musk recently bought 10,000 graphic processing units for use at one of the company’s two remaining data centres.

Graphic processing units, or GPUs, were originally developed for accelerating graphics processing, but are now used in creating AI because of their ability to dramatically speed up computational processes for deep learning and other AI applications.

A source told the outlet that the investment indicated Musk is “committed” to the effort because there is very little other reason why Twitter would spend so much on the tech if it didn’t plan to use it for AI.

The project could see Twitter develop a generative AI trained on the massive amounts of data held by the social media company, with potential applications in its search functionality or advertising. It would also mean Twitter could join a growing list of social media giants infusing their businesses with AI.

Musk’s plans come despite his recent decision to sign an open letter calling for a six-month pause on AI development out of safety concerns. The billionaire has also been an open critic of OpenAI, a company he invested in and co-founded in 2015 and left after disagreements with colleagues.

“I’m still confused as to how a non-profit to which I donated ~$100m somehow became a $30bn market cap for-profit. If this is legal, why doesn’t everyone do it?” Musk tweeted in one of his recent tirades against OpenAI’s for-profit subsidiary.

Recent filings shared by Slate claim that Twitter Inc no longer exists because it has been merged into X Corp, another company owned by Elon Musk.

It is unclear what the purpose of this merger is, but Musk has previously said he intends to use Twitter as a means to create X – an “everything app” in the style of China’s WeChat. Musk also hinted at this plan in a meeting with Twitter’s employees last year.

Musk also revealed 20 April (written as 4/20 in the US format) as the final date for removing the blue tick from legacy verified accounts in a bid to promote uptake of Twitter Blue, a plan that hasn’t been going too well.

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Elon Musk. Image: Thomas Hawk via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic