The tech billionaire Elon Musk went to the Capitol on Wednesday to warn U.S. senators that artificial intelligence poses a “civilizational risk” to both governments and societies alike.
Live look at Elon Musk (me) walking into the Senate AI Insight forum! pic.twitter.com/3X2U2fiJx3
— Elon Musk (Parody) (@ElonMuskAOC) September 13, 2023
Musk’s AI Warning
NBC News reported that Musk was in Washington D.C. to attend a closed-door summit on AI that was also attended by Big Tech powerplayers like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Sundar Pichai and Sam Altman. Musk told reporters afterwards that the summit, which all 100 senators were invited to attend, was “historic.”
“I think this meeting could go down in history as important to the future of civilization,” Musk said, according to CNBC. “The consequences of AI going wrong are severe so we have to be proactive rather than reactive.”
“The question is really one of civilizational risk,” he continued. “It’s not like … one group of humans versus another. It’s like, hey, this is something that’s potentially risky for all humans everywhere.”
When asked if he thinks AI will destroy mankind, Musk took a moment before replying by saying, “There is some chance that is above zero that AI will kill us all. I think it’s low. But if there’s some chance, I think we should also consider the fragility of human civilization.”
That’s why Musk is calling for a a federal department of artificial intelligence that would operate similarly to the Federal Aviation Administration or the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, adding that those in the space had to be “proactive while reactive.”
Elon Musk is asked: “Is AI going to kill us all?”
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) September 13, 2023
Others Speak Out On Summit
Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) told reporters as she left the summit that she was struck by Musk using the phrase “civilizational risk” when he warned about the dangers of AI.
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“You had everything from there to sort of the high-level comment about the civilizational risks associated with AI, which is a very 60,000-foot level remark, and it was everything in between, so I thought it was surprisingly interesting and helpful,” Lummis said. “And I’m glad I went.”
During the summit, Meta CEO Zuckerberg said that it is up to the government to regulate AI.
“I agree that Congress should engage with AI to support innovation and safeguards,” Zuckerberg said. “This is an emerging technology, there are important equities to balance here, and the government is ultimately responsible for that.”
Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT parent company OpenAI, spoke out afterwards so say that he was surprised that both sides of the aisle seemed to agree on “the need to take this seriously and treat it with urgency.”
“I think people all agreed that this is something that we need the government’s leadership on,” Altman told reporters. “Some disagreement about how it should happen, but unanimity this is important and urgent.”
Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates arrive for closed for AI session 👀 pic.twitter.com/l9b4qGcVzu
— HumanDilemma (@HumanDilemma_) September 13, 2023
Musk’s Previous AI Warning
Back in June, Musk predicted a “catastrophic outcome” for humanity if AI is not regulated.
“I think there’s a real danger for digital super intelligence having negative consequences,” he said while speaking in Paris at the Viva Tech conference, according to Yahoo News.
Musk went on to say that while AI would “most likely” bring positive outcomes to the world, including ushering in an “age of abundance” when it comes to access to goods and services, we must also tread carefully with it.
“That’s not every possible outcome,” said Musk. “We need to minimize the probability that something will go wrong with digital super intelligence.”
— Wise (@web3wiser) June 16, 2023
These truly are some crazy technological times that we are living in, and AI is perhaps the biggest proof of that. In the end, we all might want to heed Musk’s warning when it comes to AI, because the future of humanity may just depend on how we handle it right now.
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