It was already a surreal moment when British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was basically demoted to a chat-show host to interview Elon Musk at the AI Safety Summit in England. However, things got even weirder when Elon Musk started talking.
The Tesla and X (formerly Twitter) boss delivered a series of outlandish statements about the threats and potential future applications of AI. Here are the five strangest things Musk said during his conversation with Sunak.
1. AI Could Be Your Best Friend
One of Musk’s more positive statements about AI concerned friendship and how bots could become your best pal. He admitted it might be regarded as “odd” that AI could provide “companionship” but elaborated on why.
“If you have an AI that has memory and remembers all of your interactions, and you give it permission to read everything you’ve ever done, it will really know you better than anyone, perhaps even yourself,” Musk explained.
“When you can talk to it every day and those conversations build on one another, you will actually have a great friend,” he added. “As long as that friend can stay your friend and not get turned off!”
On a more serious note, Musk told Sunak how one of his sons has learning disabilities and has trouble forming friendships. “An AI friend would actually be great for him,” Musk said.
2. Nobody Will Need A Job In The Future
You might need to start building your AI friendships, because it’s not like you’re going to have a job to go to before long—at least, not according to Elon Musk.
“We will have, for the first time, something that is smarter than the smartest human,” he said. “There will come a point where no job is needed. You can have a job if you want to have a job for personal satisfaction but the AI can do everything.”
Put your feet up, everybody. Once you’ve got your AI skivvy to pay the bills, that is.
3. Robots Will Chase You Up Trees
For a man whose “self-driving cars” still very much need a driver behind the wheel, Musk has extraordinary confidence in the navigational abilities of robots. And one of his most outlandish statements in the Sunak interview concerned AI’s ability to track you down, wherever you may be.
“I do think there’s a safety concern, especially with humanoid robots,” Musk said. “At least the car can’t chase you into this building, not very easily, or chase you up a tree. You can run up a flight of stairs and get away,” he said to nervous laughter from the audience.
“If you have a humanoid robot it can basically chase you anywhere, so I think we need some kind of hardwired local cut-off that you can’t update from the internet.”
4. The Pope In The Puffer Jacket Looked Great
Sunak tried to pin the X boss down on AI’s potential involvement in the upcoming elections in the U.S. and the U.K. Musk embarked on a rambling answer, getting somewhat sidetracked.
“Some of it is quite entertaining,” said Musk, talking of deep fake content. “Like the Pope in the puffer jacket. Have you seen that one?” Musk asked Sunak, who laughed off the question.
“I’m like, what are the odds he’s wearing a puffer jacket in July?” he added. “But it actually looked quite dashing. I think AI fashion is going to be real.”
Form an orderly queue for your Pope-branded puffer merchandise, coming to a store near you.
5. Our New Digital Gods Are Giant Spreadsheets
Musk and Sunak spent some time discussing the difficulties of regulating AI and how it differs from other branches of technology. And that led to a rather strange discussion about the nature of large language models and what they actually are.
Musk described AI models as a “gigantic data file” with “billions of weights and parameters.”
“You can’t just read it and see what it’s going to do. It’s a gigantic file of inscrutable numbers,” he said.
“It sort of ends up being a giant comma-separated value file,” Musk added, describing the kind of file you might open with Microsoft Excel. “Our digital god is a CSV file? Really? OK.”