Elon Musk has shared more details about his rumoured and much anticipated ChatGPT rival, an AI platform he now says will be called TruthGPT.
Musk’s platform is designed to take on Microsoft’s Bing AI and Google’s Bard, and Musk’s announcement comes shortly after he signed an open letter urging AI labs like OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT, to slow down development due to what he said were “profound risks” to wider society posed by the increasingly capable AI engines.
In an April 17 interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News,, Musk explained that he is “going to start something which I call Truth GPT or a maximum truth-seeking AI that tries to understand the nature of the universe”. He added that TruthGPT “might be the best path to safety, in the sense that an AI that cares about understanding the universe, [is] unlikely to annihilate humans because we are an interesting part of the universe.”
We recently wrote about Musk’s plans to develop a ChatGPT alternative following his huge purchase of GPUs, noting that despite Musk’s supposed anxieties about AIs that the general public can access, he planned to launch his own.
In addition to acquiring new hardware, Twitter has been hiring engineers to manage the project. Musk has been openly seeking talent in the AI industry to try and compete with Open AI, and has recruited engineers from DeepMind, the AI research arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet. It’s also emerged that the tech mogul has created an artificial intelligence company called X.AI, based in Nevada.
Musk’s entry into the AI space follows the rapid and massive growth in popularity of the ChatGPT, which has already been deeply integrated into Microsoft’s Bing search engine, and spurred Google to respond with the launch of Bard.
In the interview with Carlson Musk reiterated his concerns about the implications of the exponential growth of artificial intelligence, saying “AI is more dangerous than, say, mismanaged aircraft design or production maintenance or bad car production”. He added that “it has the potential – however small one may regard that probability, but it is non-trivial – it has the potential of civilizational destruction.”
Analysis: Motivated by fear or control?
Elon Musk has been vocal about his vision for his ChatGPT competitor, and has touted it as an improved “anti-woke” version of the technology that would “eliminate” safeguarding protocols that prevent malicious users from generating potentially offensive content. It’s not clear if that is a vision he hopes to stick to, but it can give us a lens through which to view his plans.
If Musk wants to create an artificial intelligence that’s able to “care about the universe” and prevent it from destroying civilization, many people would argue that he first needs to demonstrate that he cares about the people here on Earth, and he could start by abandoning his vision for an “anti-woke” ChatGPT alternative free of safeguards.
However, right now it’s too early to pass judgement on TruthGPT, or whatever form Musk’s AI vision eventually takes. It’s important to keep his very public pronouncements in mind while also remaining open to the possibility that he may spring back with an entirely different project. The idea of a bot that ‘seeks truth’ seems purposely vague though, and sounds like an implicit criticism by Musk of the existing offerings from ChatGPT, Microsoft and Google.
Whether or not Musk’s project is fueled by fear of being left behind, or a need to be in control of the narrative is not yet clear. Either way, TruthGPT is sure to cause a stir – I just hope Musk brings some new and interesting ideas to the AI space, and brings the public with him in a way he’s often failed to do with Twitter.