Elon Musk has said that artificial intelligence has the potential to eventually render human employment obsolete. In a recent statement covered by CNBC, the prominent tech mogul, who owns companies such as Tesla, SpaceX, X (formerly known as Twitter), and the newly established AI startup xAI, expressed his view that AI could become the most disruptive force in history.
During an event held at Lancaster House, an official U.K. government residence, Musk remarked, “We will reach a point where AI surpasses the intelligence of even the most brilliant humans. It’s challenging to pinpoint when exactly that moment will arrive, but there will come a time when no jobs are necessary. People may choose to work for personal fulfillment, but AI will possess the capability to perform all tasks.”
Musk humorously noted, “I’m not sure whether this prospect makes people comfortable or uncomfortable,” eliciting laughter from the audience. He likened the situation to having an unlimited, wish-granting genie without the typical three-wish limit, acknowledging the potential for both positive and negative consequences. Musk also pondered how society would find meaning in life in a future dominated by AI.
Musk has consistently raised concerns about the risks associated with AI and has gone as far as to suggest that it could pose a greater danger than nuclear weapons. He was part of a group of tech leaders who advocated for a halt in the development of AI technologies more advanced than OpenAI’s GPT-4, as outlined in a widely-publicized open letter earlier in the year.
It’s worth noting that not all tech leaders share Musk’s perspective. For instance, Alex Karp, the CEO of Palantir, expressed a differing opinion during an interview with BBC Radio in June. He suggested that some of those calling for a pause in AI development might be doing so because they lack a competitive product.
Musk’s comments were made following a significant summit at Bletchley Park, England, where global leaders reached a consensus on a communique addressing the risks posed by AI to humanity. This summit provided a platform for technologists and political figures to emphasize the existential threats associated with AI, particularly focusing on the potential doomsday scenarios that might arise with the development of hypothetical superintelligent AI.