Rishi Sunak interviews Elon Musk about the dangers and benefits of AI | ET REALITY


Rishi Sunak, Britain’s prime minister, made one last appointment Thursday night after a busy couple of days, hosting dozens of government leaders, technology executives and other experts at a summit on the dangers of artificial intelligence. : a meeting with Elon Musk. .

Musk, the ubiquitous tech billionaire, was in town for the AI ​​Security Summit Sunak had hosted at Bletchley Park, the rural estate where Alan Turing helped crack the Enigma code used by the Nazis during World War II.

The summit was attended by public officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris and António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, as well as technology leaders such as Sam Altman, director of OpenAI; and Reid Hoffman, investor and co-founder of LinkedIn.

But only Musk, a man with growing geopolitical influence through his control of X, Tesla and SpaceX, received such special treatment from the British prime minister.

At Lancaster House, a former royal residence near Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace, Sunak interviewed Musk about the potential dangers of AI and what, if anything, the world can do to prepare. The discussion was transmitted on X, Musk’s social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

“AI will most likely be a force for good,” Musk said. The problem, he said, is that the possibility of things going very wrong “is not zero.” Artificial intelligence is developing “faster than any technology I’ve seen in history,” he added.

Sunak said he believed AI posed many risks, but downplayed some of the potential negative effects. While he finds many voters concerned about automation and job losses, Sunak said he believed AI would improve productivity, create jobs and serve as a “co-pilot” to help workers rather than replace them – a view he did not. many unions share. .

The two men make an odd couple. Sunak is a former Goldman Sachs banker whose greatest political attribute in becoming prime minister was that he would be a steady pair of hands after the ramshackle leadership of his predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. By contrast, Musk, known for his pre-dawn social media posts and deliberately provocative statements, seems to thrive more in a state of improvisation and chaos.

What they both have in common is that they have been under intense scrutiny.

Sunak’s grip on power is in doubt. His Conservative Party, which must call elections before January 2025, He has governed for 13 years and is held responsible for a stagnant economy, worker strikes and public services under pressure after years of government cuts. Musk has faced criticism for, among other things, allowing racist, anti-Semitic and hate speech to flourish on X since he bought the platform last year.

Sunak, who attended Stanford University and has spoken fondly of his time in Silicon Valley, sought to use the Bletchley Park event to position Britain as a world leader in AI. The event produced little in terms of concrete policies, but many attendees. He said it started a global conversation about the need to safeguard AI

Musk was perhaps the biggest name among those in attendance. On Wednesday he participated in several closed-door sessions and posed for photographs.

“People would come up and say, ‘Can I take a selfie?’ Then, very quickly, someone else would say, ‘Oh, can I get one too?'” said Max Tegmark, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who attended the event and has known Musk for years.

Sunak seemed equally enthralled by Musk. He opened the conversation with an admiring quote from Bill Gates about Musk being one of the great inventors of his generation.

“What are the types of things that governments like ours should do?” Mr Sunak asked deferentially at one point.

In the audience was a mix of British officials and business executives, including Demis Hassabis, CEO of Google’s artificial intelligence lab DeepMind. Musical artist Will.i.am was sitting in the front row.

Some saw Sunak’s conversation with Musk as a not-so-subtle attempt to elevate Britain’s standing with entrepreneurs and tech companies at a time when the country’s economy is languishing. At a news conference on Thursday, a British journalist asked Sunak if the meeting was about artificial intelligence or trying to attract a Tesla battery plant to Britain. (Sunak praised Musk’s experience in AI)

“He wants the UK to attract investment,” said Marietje Schaake, director of international policy at the Stanford Cyber ​​Policy Center, who moderated one of the discussions at the AI ​​Security Summit. Musk’s interview, she said, “seems a bit like a media stunt.”

Sunak’s conversation with Musk veered, at times, into science fiction. Musk described a future in which computers would surpass human intelligence and people would not have to work. At another point, he talked about creating humanoid robots that would need kill switches.

In an unexpected and candid moment, Musk said that artificial intelligence systems could become so advanced that they could become a person’s “great friend” by remembering conversations and knowing their likes and dislikes. He noted that his son has learning disabilities and trouble making friends. “An AI friend would be great for him,” he said.

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