Twitter is reportedly diving into the world of artificial intelligence (AI) with an in-house project, and recent developments suggest that the company’s efforts are being led by none other than Elon Musk. According to a report by Business Insider, the tech mogul has purchased 10,000 graphics processing units (GPUs) for use at one of Twitter’s two remaining data centers.
The purchase is seen as a sign of Musk’s commitment to the project, particularly given the fact that Twitter would have little use for such a massive amount of data center-grade GPUs unless it planned to use them for AI work. The project is said to involve the creation of a generative AI, which would be trained on Twitter’s massive trove of data. While it’s unclear exactly how Twitter plans to utilize the technology, it’s speculated that a generative AI could be used to improve the platform’s search functionality or assist in rebuilding its advertising business.
Interestingly, the report also sheds light on Musk’s recent decision to sign an open letter calling for a six-month pause on AI development. Musk has been a vocal critic of OpenAI, the AI research organization he co-founded in 2015. In one of his recent Twitter missives against the lab’s for-profit subsidiary, OpenAI Limited Partnership, Musk expressed confusion over how a non-profit to which he donated ~$100M became a $30B market cap for-profit. However, a recent report by Semafor suggests that Musk’s feud with OpenAI is more personal.
According to Semafor, Musk’s departure from OpenAI in 2018 was the result of a power struggle with the lab’s other co-founders. Musk reportedly told Sam Altman, another co-founder, that OpenAI was falling too far behind Google and suggested that he should be the one to run the firm. The proposal was rejected by Altman and the other co-founders, and Musk ultimately left the organization. While publicly both parties maintained that Musk left due to a conflict of interest involving Tesla, Semafor reports that Musk’s payments to OpenAI stopped after his departure, despite a promise to provide the firm with roughly $1 billion. The sudden shortfall left OpenAI scrambling to raise cash, and the organization ultimately announced the creation of a for-profit subsidiary in 2019 to secure the capital it needed to fund its work.
When OpenAI opened its chatbot, ChatGPT, to the public in November, the chatbot began to dominate headlines, reportedly leaving Musk “furious.” One month later, he cut OpenAI’s access to Twitter’s “firehose” of data. Now, it appears that Musk wants to compete directly against his old organization with Twitter’s in-house AI project.
It’s clear that Musk has a vested interest in the development of AI and its potential applications. While his criticisms of OpenAI may be rooted in personal disagreements, his commitment to Twitter’s AI project suggests that he sees value in the technology and its ability to transform industries. As Twitter continues to move forward with its project, it will be interesting to see how it utilizes the technology and what impact it will have on the platform’s future.