Elon Musk Warns AI Could End Humanity

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Twitter (X) owner Elon Musk has warned that artificial intelligence (AI) could be used by radical environmentalists to end the human race.

Appearing on comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast today Tuesday, Musk said some people might prefer to protect the planet by ending human life through the technology.

He was speaking ahead of the UK’s AI safety summit, now underway, where he is due to meet the UK Prime Minister.

Many experts consider such warnings overblown.

Nick Clegg, the president of global affairs at Meta and former deputy prime minister – who is also attending the summit – said people shouldn’t let “speculative, sometimes somewhat futuristic predictions” crowd out more immediate challenges.

Mr Musk said his comments were born out of fears the environmental movement had “gone too far”.

“If you start thinking that humans are bad, then the natural conclusion is humans should die out,” he said.

“If AI gets programmed by the extinctionists, its utility function will be the extinction of humanity… they won’t even think it’s bad.”

Mr Musk is due to speak to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on his platform X later on Thursday.

Representatives of some of the world’s most powerful countries are giving speeches at the summit, including – unusually – China, which is emerging as a key player in AI.

Relations between China and the West are fraught in many areas of technology – but the country’s Vice Minister Wu Zhaohui said it was seeking a spirit of openness in AI.

“We call for global collaboration to share knowledge and make AI technologies available to the public,” he told delegates.

“Countries regardless of its size and strength, have equal rights to develop and use AI. We should increase the representation and voice of developing countries,” he added.

While few people share Mr Musk’s interpretation of the threat AI poses, many agree it has potential dangers.

Speaking ahead of the summit, Demis Hassabis, the co-founder of Google Deepmind, one of the UK’s biggest AI firms, said the “move fast and break things” mantra associated with Silicon Valley should be avoided.

“It has been extremely successful in building massive companies and providing us with lots of great services and applications,” Mr Hassabis said.

“But AI is too important. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure that we understand [AI systems] and we know how to deploy them in safe and responsible ways.”

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