Over the past decade, Elon Musk has made substantial investments in increasingly unconventional enterprises, some of which possess a distinctly dystopian/utopian aspect.
First, there is Neuralink, a business focused on developing a brain-computer interface or a BCI. Then, the more ambitious robotic project, “Optimus” is under the Tesla umbrella. Musk has even been a part of OpenAI, the organization he had invested in as a co-founder, that ultimately was responsible for creating ChatGPT and making AI famous.
All in all, Musk has played a pivotal role in nurturing a collection of peculiar, science-fiction-inspired businesses that actively explore the boundaries of technological advancement.
Walter Isaacson, Musk’s newly appointed biographer, has proposed that many of these enterprises form part of a more comprehensive strategy to bring in a bold new era of artificial general intelligence. In short, Musk plans to make an AI that is as smart as humans and perhaps can evolve into something even more brilliant.
In an article recently published in Time, Isaacson contends that most of Musk’s diverse investments in startups and business ventures are components of a broader initiative aimed at catalyzing the development of “artificial general intelligence,” which is often commonly referred to as AGI.
The idea of AGI, often presented to non-tech people, is relatively abstract. It essentially suggests the impending arrival of an AI model in the future that is vastly superior to humans. This notion has been the subject of both fascination and nightmares and is often called “the singularity.”
This scenario envisions artificial intelligence evolving beyond merely a programmed tool for human-guided algorithmic processes, aptly likened to “stochastic parrots,” a term recently coined for large language models.
Instead, “the singularity” envisions AI as a self-learning, organic intelligence capable of mimicking, or perhaps even surpassing, the innate intelligence possessed by humans. Think of it as AI constantly evolving and thinking on its own, without any human input or intervention, as if it has consciousness and is aware of its surroundings.
According to one of Isaacson’s interviews with Musk, it appears that Musk believes his various, seemingly unrelated business ventures — such as Neuralink, Tesla’s Optimus project, and the neural network training supercomputer named Dojo — could be strategically aligned to pursue the overarching objective of achieving artificial general intelligence.
A vital element of this purported grand scheme may be Musk’s recent launch of a new startup, xAI. Isaacson speculates that Musk intends to consolidate many of his other enterprises, including xAI and X, into a single expansive entity that goes beyond the WeChat-like everything app that Musk wants to build.
The result could be a formidable artificial intelligence corporation committed to pushing the boundaries of technology beyond its current confines.
However, it’s important to note that numerous critics contend that achieving AGI is a distant goal. While Musk may aspire to be the figure who catalyzes the technological revolution often depicted in science fiction movies — a process that, according to numerous cinematic portrayals, might ultimately threaten humanity — the feasibility of such an outcome remains uncertain, whether in the near or distant future.