Musk tells Sunak AI will eventually mean no one needs to have a job

Elon Musk tells Rishi Sunak AI will eventually mean no one needs to have a job in a conversation with the Prime Minister following the summit at Bletchley Park

  • Britain is hosting the world’s first AI Safety Summit in Buckinghamshire 

Artificial intelligence will eventually mean no one needs to work, Elon Musk told Rishi Sunak last night.

In conversation with the Prime Minister, the tech billionaire compared AI to a ‘magic genie’ that would bring a time when ‘no job is needed’.

Mr Musk said people could still work ‘for personal satisfaction’ if they wanted, and one of the future challenges would be finding ‘meaning in life’.

Mr Sunak replied: ‘I’m someone who believes work gives you meaning.’

Speaking in front of tech bosses and journalists, Mr Musk said: ‘You can have a job if you want to for personal satisfaction, AI can do everything.

‘I don’t know if that makes people comfortable or uncomfortable. It’s both good and bad.

‘One of the challenges in future will be how do we find meaning in life. We won’t have universal basic income but universal high income. It’ll be good for education – it’ll be the best tutor.’

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, attends an in-conversation event with Tesla and SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk in London, Thursday, November 2, 2023

Rishi Sunak and Elon Musk met in London following the AI summit in Buckinghamshire

‘There is a need for government to play a role when public safety is at risk. It can be annoying, but having a referee is a good thing,’ Musk said 

Speaking at Lancaster House following the AI summit at Bletchley Park, Mr Musk described ‘a future of abundance where there is no scarcity,’ calling AI a ‘magic genie’. But he then quipped that those fairytales rarely end well.

MI5 to vet new software 

Artificial intelligence software will be vetted by the security services to prevent ‘misuse’ by terrorists and rogue states, under plans approved by world leaders.

Rishi Sunak led a discussion at yesterday’s AI summit on the introduction of ‘state-backed testing’.

Whitehall sources said the plan would involve testing by agencies including GCHQ and MI5. One insider said: ‘The safety assessment is done by the companies themselves. But they do not have access to the kind of classified material that would allow them to ask the right questions to discover whether this technology can do the really dangerous stuff.’

Mr Sunak said all the leading AI pioneers had agreed to have their new models tested by British and US ‘safety institutes’ before their release to the public.

Chinese ministers were notably excluded from the sessions on national security.

The X owner also suggested AI robots could also become our friends. ‘An AI with memory could know you better than you know yourself – you could actually have a great friend,’ he said.

Mr Musk hailed the Prime Minister’s decision to invite China to the summit.

He said: ‘If China is not on board, it becomes a weird situation. China is willing to participate in AI safety.

‘This is something they care about – having them here was essential.’

The pair agreed that AI had major potential – though Mr Musk warned it should have a physical ‘off switch’ as well as regulation.

‘There is a need for government to play a role when public safety is at risk. It can be annoying, but having a referee is a good thing.

‘AI will be a force for good – most likely – but the chance of it going badly is not zero.’

He had earlier warned that AI poses ‘one of the biggest threats’ to humanity, clashing with Nick Clegg over the extent of the dangers. Speaking at the first day of the summit, the Facebook boss urged governments not to ‘micro-manage’ tech companies.

Mr Musk last night issued a further warning about humanoid robots that ‘can basically chase you anywhere’.

‘What if they get a software update one day, and they’re not so friendly any more?’

The Prime Minister said ‘we’ve all watched’ movies about androids that end with the machines being switched off. But Mr Musk said the UK ‘is in a strong position’ on developing robots, praising Dyson in particular.

Mr Sunak hinted that the next General Election will take place in 2024 – rather than January 2025, the latest one could take place.

Speaking about the dangers of deep fakes, the Prime Minister said: ‘I have already had a situation with a doctored image. Next year we have elections in India, the US, Indonesia, probably here. An enormous proportion of the world population is voting.

‘Next year will be the first time that this has been an issue. It is mission critical to work out how to deal with this.’ He declared that the summit had shown that the world had both the ‘political will and capability’ to control the technology.

He also said that the two-day event would ‘tip the balance in favour of humanity’.

Rishi Sunak (L) and US tech entrepreneur Elon Musk (R) attend a conversation event in central London, Britain, 2 November 2023

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (L) shakes hands with X CEO Elon Musk (R) on November 2

It came as the Prime Minister announced that leading AI firms had agreed to allow governments to test the safety of their models before they are released.

Mr Sunak, who had earlier warned the threat of AI was similar in scale to pandemics and nuclear wars, said: ‘We can’t expect companies to mark their own homework.’

While admitting ‘binding requirements’ would likely be needed to regulate the technology, Mr Sunak said now was the time to move quickly without laws.

However, he indicated it may need to be put on a statutory footing in the future.

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