UK PM Rishi Sunak interviews Elon Musk: 10 key points to note

Just hours after the conclusion of the inaugural AI Safety Summit, which was held in the UK at Bletchley Park and witnessed the participation of more than 28 countries, with dignitaries such as US vice president Kamala Harris, India’s Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and China’s vice minister of science and technology Wu Zhaohui, another monumental AI interview was held. This interview was between the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and X owner Elon Musk. Sunak interviewed Musk over some of the most hard-hitting questions in the AI space and assessed its risks and potential. Musk even called AI the “most disruptive force in history”, Let us take a look at the 10 most important parts from the 51-minute-long interview.

10 key points from the AI discussion between Rishi Sunak and Elon Musk

1. Without wasting any time, the first question Sunak asked Musk was about his apprehension over AI, despite being one of the most experimental innovators of our times. Musk said, “Since I was immersed in technology for a long time, I could see [AI] coming. But this was the year when a number of breakthroughs occurred. For example, you could see a dynamically created video of yourself saying anything”. 

“I saw GPT 1, GPT 2, 3 and 4, the whole lead after that, and it was easy for me to see where it was going. If you extrapolate the points on the curve and see the trajectory continue, then we will have profound artificial intelligence, at a level that far exceeds human intelligence,” he added.

2. The magic genie problem – During the interview, Musk highlighted that he would like to believe that AI can be used to create an abundance of goods and services and address all the major problems of the world, but he said one thing concerned him, and it was what he calls the ‘magic genie problem’. He explained, “If you have a magic genie that grants you wishes, usually those stories don’t end well. Be careful what you wish for, including wishes”.

3. On employment cuts due to AI – Musk said, “We are seeing the most destructive force in history here. There will come a point where no job is needed. You can have a job if you want a job. Whether that makes people feel comfortable or not is something we will have to see…One of the challenges in the future will be how do we find meaning in life”. 

4. AI can chase you up a tree – Explaining his problem with AI, especially as they were added to humanoid robots, he said, “I think there is a safety concern, particularly with humanoid robots. At least a car can’t chase you up a tree … but if you have a humanoid robot it can chase you anywhere”. Suna responded to this with “You’re not selling this”.

5. AI friend – Mentioning a potential benefit of AI, Musk said, “One of my sons has trouble making friends and an AI friend would be great for him”. This also highlights the kind of role Musk sees AI enter and operate in.

6. Inviting China to AI Summit is “essential” – During the interview, Musk praised Sunak for inviting China to the AI Safety Summit, and appreciated the dignitary from China for attending the event. He said, “China is willing to participate in AI safety and thank you for inviting them. I think we should thank China for attending”.

7. Musk explained why inviting China was crucial. He said, “If China is not on board with AI safety, it is somewhat of a moot situation. The single biggest objection [I hear to inviting China] to such AI regulation and safety control (meetings) is that China is not going to do it, and they will take the lead and exceed us all. But China is actually willing to wait for AI safety. When I was in China earlier, the biggest discussion there was around AI safety”. 

8. Potential good that AI can do – Elon Musk said, “We won’t have Universal Basic Income, but we will have Universal High Income. It will be somewhat of a leveler because I think everyone will have access to this magic genie. It would certainly be good for education. It will be the best, and the most patient tutor. There will be no shortage of goods and services and we will enter the age of abundance”.

9. Jobs going away may not be a bad thing – Elon Musk said, “Maybe in a way it is a good thing since some jobs are uncomfortable and dangerous or just tedious. The computer will have no problem doing that. It’s fun to cook food but it is not fun to wash the dishes”. 

10. Opportunities within AI – Musk said, “Personal tutor is going to be amazing. Perhaps another one is companionship. If you have an AI that has memory and remembers all of your interactions and you can give it permission to read everything you have ever done, then nobody will know and understand you better than that AI. You will have a great friend”. 

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