Elon Musk has issued a warning that programming artificial intelligence (AI) by members of the “environmental movement” could result in the extinction of humanity.
He claimed that some people would use technology to end human life in order to protect the environment during an appearance on comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast on Tuesday.
He was speaking in advance of the UK Prime Minister’s meeting with him at the ongoing AI safety summit.
Many experts believe that these warnings are exaggerated.
During the summit, Nick Clegg, the president of global affairs at Meta and a former deputy prime minister, stated that people shouldn’t let “speculative, sometimes somewhat futuristic predictions” overshadow more pressing issues.
Mr. Musk claimed that his worries that the environmental movement had “gone too far” were the source of his remarks.
“If you start thinking that humans are bad, then the natural conclusion is humans should die out,” he explained.
“If AI is programmed by extinctionists, the end of humanity will be its useful function. They won’t even consider it negative.”
On his platform X later on Thursday, Mr. Musk is scheduled to address UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Speaking at the summit are delegates from some of the most powerful nations on earth, including – surprisingly – China, which is becoming a major force in artificial intelligence.
Although China and the West have tense relations in many technological domains, Vice Minister Wu Zhaohui of China stated that the nation was looking for an open AI culture.
“We call for global collaboration to share knowledge and make AI technologies available to the public,” he stated to the attendees.
“Every nation has the same rights to develop and use artificial intelligence, regardless of size or strength. Increasing the voice and representation of developing nations is important,” he continued.
Many people concur that AI has potential risks, even though few agree with Mr. Musk’s assessment of the threat it poses.
The co-founder of one of the largest AI companies in the UK, Google Deepmind, Demis Hassabis, warned against adopting the Silicon Valley motto of “move fast and break things” in remarks he gave prior to the summit.
“It has been extremely successful in building massive companies and providing us with lots of great services and applications,” said Hassabis.
However, AI is too significant. To make sure that we comprehend [AI systems] and that we know how to use them responsibly and safely, a lot of work needs to be done.
He noted several possible dangers, such as the possibility that AI will produce false information and deepfakes and that malicious actors will purposefully abuse the technology.
At the UK’s Bletchley Park campus, once home to the codebreakers who helped secure victory during World War Two, about 100 world leaders, tech executives, academics, and AI researchers will be gathered over the course of the next two days.
They will participate in talks about how to minimize risks and maximize the advantages of artificial intelligence, including the development of new treatments and potential applications in the fight against climate change.
The summit’s main focus will be on the grave risks posed by “frontier AI,” or the most sophisticated types of technology that Mr. Hassabis referred to as the “tip of the spear.” Priorities for the summit include the risk of bioterrorism and cyberattacks.
US Vice President Kamala Harris and President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission are among the foreign delegates.
There has been criticism that the guest list is dominated by US giants, such as Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla and X (formerly Twitter), Anthropic, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, as well as the creator of ChatGPT, OpenAI. On Thursday night, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Elon Musk will have a live chat on X.
Some have questioned whether this week’s announcements about AI safety from the US and the G7, in particular, overshadowed the event. However, Mr. Hassabis stated that the UK could still play “an important role” in influencing conversations.
‘Kind of sci-fi’
Cohere’s founder, Aidan Gomez, traveled from Toronto to the UK for the summit. May 2023 saw his company valued at $2 billion.
Speaking of “kind of sci-fi,” he said he thought there were more pressing threats than the “doomsday Terminator scenario.”
“In my personal opinion, I wish we would focus more near-term where there’s concrete policy work to be done,” he stated.
For example, the technology is not yet ready to prescribe medications to patients, as a mistake could potentially result in a fatality.
“We really need to preserve human presence and oversight of these systems… we need regulation to help us steer and guide the acceptable use of this technology.”