Tesla boss Elon Musk has told a summit he believes artificial intelligence will one day ‘eliminate jobs’.
Speaking to prime minister Rishi Sunak as part of the government’s AI summit at London’s Lancaster House last night, the tech billionaire described AI as ‘the most disruptive force in human history’.
Musk runs the electric car brand Tesla, SpaceX and The Boring Company and was an early investor in the American organisation OpenAI, which launched Chat GPT. Musk also owns the social media website X, formerly known as Twitter.
Speaking to Sunak in a 50-minute interview in front of business leaders, Musk likened AI to a ‘magic genie’ that would be capable of granting ‘limitless wishes’.
Musk said: ‘We will have for the first time something that is smarter than the smartest human.
‘There will come a point where no job is needed. You can have a job if you want a job for personal satisfaction, but the AI will be able to do it.’
Musk added that he believed work would become something people do ‘for fun’.
Sunak added he believed AI ‘will bring a lot of change in the labour market’ and that better education was needed to help workers ‘manage the transition’.
Musk said: ‘One of the future challenges will be how do we find meaning in life if you have a magic genie that can do everything you want?’
During the conversation – which was later broadcast on the social media website – Musk also raised concerns about Terminator-style robots that could one day turn on humans and the need for AI to have an ‘off switch’.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) November 2, 2023
Many experts are concerned AI is an existential threat to humans and the government’s summit aimed to discuss regulations needed for the rapidly emerging technology.
Musk said: ‘A humanoid robot can basically chase you anywhere.
‘It’s something we should be quite concerned about. If a robot can follow you anywhere, what if they get a software update one day, and they’re not so friendly any more?’
He joked that it is easy to run away from a Tesla by climbing up some stairs, but not if that robot can follow you. He said there needed to be an ability to put AI in a ‘safe state’.
Sunak added that ‘we’ve all watched’ movies about robots that end with them being shut off.
The PM is said to have struck a deal that will see spy agencies and government experts examine AI technology before it is released.
At a press conference concluding the event, Sunak said the summit had ‘tipped the balance in favour of humanity’ after reaching the agreement with technology firms to vet their models.
It has been reported that eight leading AI companies have now agreed to share their future models with 10 nations and the EU, to be tested before they’re made public so they cannot be hijacked.
The companies are Anthropic, Google, Google DeepMind, Amazon, Inflection AI, Meta, Microsoft, Mistral AI and Open AI.
During the chat, Musk also spoke of AI’s potential to provide ‘companionship’, saying it could ‘know you better than anyone, perhaps even yourself’.
He added: ‘If you have an AI that has memory and has permission to read everything you’ve ever done, and will know you better than you know yourself, you’ll actually have a great friend.’
Sunak returned to Whitehall for the conversation with the Tesla chief after the AI Safety Summit had been held at Bletchley Park, the home of Allied code breaking during the Second World War.