Why Twitter Might Embrace Generative AI
Elon Musk just reminded everyone that he’s all-in with AI.
The man whose Tesla company famously incorporates AI in car design is reportedly creating a rival to OpenAI, the business he co-founded. OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT recently launched a race to develop generative AI, which is designed for a variety of purposes, such as answering questions, engaging in conversations, providing suggestions, and creating content. We don’t know yet what exactly his new company, X.AI, will do. But he has renamed Twitter Inc. X Corp., which raises a question: how will Musk apply AI at Twitter, where bots have been a scourge? Will he use AI-powered bots himself?
The New Company
X.AI was incorporated in Nevada in March and has authorized the sale of 100 million shares for the privately held company. Musk is X.AI’s sole director. It’s no surprise that he’s likely creating a rival to OpenAI. He reportedly tried and failed to take over OpenAI in 2018. He then left OpenAI’s board citing a potential conflict of interest with his work at Tesla.
The name of the X.AI reflects Musk’s ambition to create an “everything app” called X, which he announced on Twitter in 2022. His everything app could become his version of WeChat, the multifunctional messaging, social media, and mobile payment app developed by the Chinese company Tencent.
Indeed, Business Insider reported recently that Musk has also launched an AI initiative at Twitter. He recently purchased roughly 10,000 graphics processing units for the platform. (Technology companies use GPUs to work on large AI models.) Per Business Insider:
Musk's AI project at Twitter involves a large language model, according to one of the people familiar. An LLM is essentially AI that is trained on large sets of data so it can eventually create new, seemingly sophisticated content and text on its own. Twitter has massive amounts of data that could train an LLM. For instance, ChatGPT's creator, OpenAI, previously had access to Twitter data for training purposes, though Musk said he put a stop to that in December.
Business Insider noted that Musk might be using generative AI to improve search and/or its advertising products. Here’s another question: could Musk be using a ChatGPT interface to launch smart bots? In 2022, as Musk acquired Twitter, he declared war on bots, the automated Twitter accounts that have been blamed for spamming Twitter users and degrading the quality of content shared on the platform.
But generative AI promises to take bots to another level of sophistication, creating smart, human sounding content that no one can distinguish from machine generated tweets. Attempts to introduce smarter bots on Twitter for positive uses have failed in the past, as Microsoft learned the hard way in 2016. But people are getting more comfortable communicating with bots. As Author and Professor Scott Galloway recently noted, twice the population of the United States is relying on chatbots to relieve loneliness.
Bots are becoming more human by emulating our intelligence and communication style. As bots evolve, they can become friendlier and assuring, and less robotic. In fact, bots are already writing, creating music, and other forms of expression in ways that seem very human. Companies are using them increasingly for customer service functions.
Bots could be returning to Twitter. And this time, because Elon Musk wants them to do so.