The UK’s global summit on artificial intelligence (AI) security, the AI Security Summit, concluded on November 2 with a one-on-one talk between UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and billionaire Elon Musk.
Musk was one of many big names attending the summit, including the heads of OpenAI, Meta, Google and its AI division DeepMind, along with leaders from 27 countries. Musk’s nearly hour-long talk with Sunak was one of the main events of the second day.
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 2, 2023
Their conversation touched on everything from the risks of AI to China, and began with Elon Musk comparing the emerging technology to a “magical genie.”
“It’s kind of like the magical genie problem, where if you have a magical genie who can grant all wishes, usually those stories don’t end well. Be careful what you wish for.”
They both mentioned that these intelligent robots needed a physical “off switch” and drew parallels with science fiction movies like The terminator. “All these movies with the same plot basically end when the person turns it off,” Sunak said.
“It’s both good and bad. One of the challenges in the future will be: how can we find meaning in life if you have a magical genie that can do anything you want?
This came after governments and AI companies reached an agreement to put new models through official testing before their public launch, which Sunak called a “landmark deal”.
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When asked about AI’s impact on the job market, Musk called it the “most disruptive force in history” and said the technology will be smarter than the smartest human being.
“There will come a point where no work will be needed. You can have a job if you want to have a job for your personal satisfaction, but AI will be able to do it all.”
“I don’t know if that makes people comfortable or uncomfortable,” Musk concluded.
Additionally, Musk commented on China’s inclusion in the summit, saying its presence was “essential.” “If they don’t participate, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.
“If the United States, the United Kingdom and China are aligned on security, then it will be a good thing because that is where the leadership usually is.”
Over the past year, the United States and China have gone head-to-head in the race to develop and deploy the most advanced artificial intelligence systems.
When Sunak asked Musk what he thinks governments should do to mitigate the risk, Musk responded:
“Overall, I think it’s good for the government to play a role when public safety is at risk; For the vast majority of software, public safety is not at risk. But when we talk about digital superintelligence, which does pose a risk to the public, then the government must play a role in safeguarding the public.”
He said that while there are people in Silicon Valley who believe it will crush innovation and slow it down, Musk said the regulations will be “annoying,” but having what he called a “referee” will be a good thing.
“The government needs to act as an arbiter to make sure there’s sporting conduct and public safety is taken care of because sometimes I think there’s too much optimism about technology.”
Since the rapid emergence of AI into the mainstream, governments around the world have rushed to find suitable solutions to regulate the technology.
Musk aware on X, formerly Twitter, on November 3 that its “xAI” will launch its first AI to a “select group.” He claimed that in some “important” respects it could be the “best” currently on the market.
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