artificial intelligence

Tech thoughts: Starving xAI’s artificial intelligence means abandoning X

Victor Barreiro Jr.

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Tech thoughts: Starving xAI’s artificial intelligence means abandoning X
Musk wants to train its AI system with tweets. The problem is X, formerly Twitter, now tends to have racists, ragebait, and hate baked in. What kind of AI would that create?

Elon Musk has many buzzwords for his artificial intelligence startup xAI.

Back in July, he said he wanted it to be a “maximally curious” AI whose purpose would be to “understand the true nature of the universe.”

Much like generative AI in its current state, however, this appears to be an attempt to string words together without understanding any context or meaning from what he intends to say.

Musk has said himself he intends to train AI using public tweets from the X social media platform. The content of X, however, is not moderated well enough, and tends to have racists, ragebait, and hate baked in.

What is xAI supposed to become, in this case? It will likely be biased towards the worldview of the loudest in the room instead of appearing thoughtful and nuanced. That said, AI doesn’t understand enough of what it’s saying to assume malice. It just wants to sound plausible enough to be acceptable.

If there is also a decided lack of accountability – because Musk is suing groups like the Center for Countering Digital Hate that would try to make X accountable for such reprehensible content – then who’s going to push back against missteps by the AI?

Musk, in March, has said he wants a pause on artificial intelligence beyond GPT-4 level AI, but that feels more as if he’s trying to buy time to level the playing field so he can create his own AI toys, and with xAI on the horizon, it seems it’s time to decide what’s next for a populace that’s become reliant on Twitter for a virtual town square, information nexus, and amplification platform.

While we could train the AI on falsehoods and conspiracies, and post lies en masse, that only seeks to enrich Musk with engagement money. The stand has to be firmer.

I believe the time has come to starve the beast that Elon Musk is trying to grow in this bottom dwelling called X.

While it’s difficult for news organizations to leave X – though some like Australia’s ABC already have – individuals can take this time to find other potential places to call home. Artists of many stripes have also taken their leave of Twitter, worried xAI could be trained on their posts and pictures.

I myself have found solace in knowing the ecosystem surrounding Mastodon exists, and I’m inclined to keep using chat tools like Discord, as well as forums, as backups for information and socialization.

In the meantime, it’s time to starve the beast, and that just means one thing: to leave X behind. –

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Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.