Sunak 'delighted' Elon Musk attended AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park
Elon Musk spoke to Rishi Sunak about both the potential dangers and opportunities of artificial intelligence at the UK’s AI Safety Summit on Thursday (November 2).
The discussion, which took place from Bletchley Park and was streamed on Twitter/X, turned out to be a pretty unhinged affair – with one reporter calling it “one of the maddest events I’ve ever covered”.
Sam Coates from Sky was in disbelief after covering the discussion.
Coates said: "I’m standing a stone’s-throw away from Buckingham Palace and in Lancaster House - that’s the foreign secretary’s residence - where one of the most extraordinary events I’ve ever covered as a journalist has just taken place.”
Here are the most bizarre moments from the event.
Elon Musk saying you can be “best friends” with AI
“They discussed an array of things, often veering right into the bizarre. At one point Elon Musk said one of the benefits of artificial intelligence is that you could be friends with it, in fact they could be some of the best friends that you have,” Coates said.
The moment in question saw Musk argue that AI would offer people strong “companionship”. He said some AI robots will “know you better than you know yourself … you will actually have a great friend”. Appearing taken aback, Sunak said he found the idea “surprising”.
Speaking about AI by referencing works of fiction
During the discussion, Musk said that “we should be quite concerned” about humanoid robots that “can follow you anywhere”.
It led Coates to say: “At one point the prime minister and Elon Musk both agreed on the importance of being able to switch off robots that have gone wrong. They were talking about AI in the context of James Cameron Terminator films. I can barely believe I’m saying all of this.”
Moments of existential dread
Sunak told reporters: “People developing this technology themselves have raised the risk that AI may pose and it’s important to not be alarmist about this. There’s debate about this topic. People in the industry themselves don’t agree and we can’t be certain.
“But there is a case to believe that it may pose a risk on a scale like pandemics and nuclear war, and that’s why, as leaders, we have a responsibility to act to take the steps to protect people, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
Musk agreed, saying that AI was “one of the biggest threats to humanity”.
He added later: “What if one day they get a software update and they’re not so friendly anymore.”
AI could mean we ‘choose to have a job or not’
Musk said he believed there’d come a time when “you can have a job if you want a job . . . but AI will be able to do everything”
Sunak saying he wants the British public to “take risk” during a cost of living crisis
Sunak told Musk he wants Brits to be more willing to give up “the security of a regular paycheck and be comfortable with failing” to encourage start-ups.
Labour retorted to the remark. “How out of touch is Rishi Sunak? The public are enduring the worst cost of living crisis in memory and he is spending his time telling Elon Musk that he wishes they would give up their jobs and be ready to fail,” said frontbencher Jonathan Ashworth. “He hasn’t got a clue.”