Elon Musk is reportedly planning an AI startup to compete with OpenAI

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his security detail depart the company’s local office in Washington, January 27, 2023.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is planning to launch an artificial intelligence startup that would go head-to-head with OpenAI, the Financial Times reported Friday.

Musk — the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter — has been building a team of researchers and engineers and has been in conversation with multiple investors, the Financial Times reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. He has also reportedly been recruiting from other top AI firms, including Alphabet-owned DeepMind.

“It’s real and they are excited about it,” a source familiar with the matter told the Financial Times.

Musk has secured thousands of Nvidia GPU processors, according to the report. Those chips are an integral part of building a large language model, or LLM, to compete with OpenAI’s GPT. Musk said he was acquiring the processors for his companies in a Twitter Spaces interview with the BBC this week.

“It seems like everyone and their dog is buying GPUs at this point,” Musk said. “Twitter and Tesla are certainly buying GPUs.”

Musk was once a major financial backer at OpenAI, committing $1 billion over multiple years, according to an earlier report from Semafor. But Musk backed out of his financial and operational commitments to the artificial intelligence firm at the same time OpenAI added a for-profit business segment. Microsoft invested $1 billion in OpenAI shortly after Musk ruptured with the group and, earlier this year, committed to a new multibillion-dollar investment.

Musk has publicly questioned ChatGPT-creator OpenAI’s approach. In March, Musk signed an open letter calling for an immediate, six-month-long halt on any research on AI models more advanced than OpenAI’s GPT-4. He has said AI is “one of the biggest risks to the future of civilization.”

Musk’s reported venture could become the latest entrant to an increasingly crowded space. Beyond Microsoft and Google, Amazon announced Thursday that it’s entering the generative AI space.

Musk did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Read more at the Financial Times.

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