Reporter calls Sunak's interview with Musk 'very weird' live on air
Sky News's Sam Cotes has given a rather honest and damning assessment of Rishi Sunak's interview with Elon Musk on Thursday night at the culmination of the AI Safety Summit.
The prime minister of the UK spoke with the owner of X/Twitter, Tesla and Space X after the much-hyped summit in Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, which Cotes dubbed as 'one of the maddest events I’ve ever covered.'
Musk and Sunak spoke for nearly an hour in a room full of tech experts, businessmen and journalists, with the PM acting as a jovial host, asking soft-ball questions to one of the richest men in the world.
In a now-viral 3-minute monologue which has now been viewed more than one million times an exasperated and bemused Cotes attempts to describe what he had just witnessed.
He 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.
″What we’ve just had at the end of this two-day AI Safety Summit is the prime minister of the United Kingdom interviewing the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, who is not only a businessman, owner of the X social media platform and increasingly asserting himself as one of the most powerful people.
″Across 40 minutes of soft ball questions from the prime minister, jovial witticisms from Rishi Sunak as they tried to bond over the complex subjects of AI, tech the X platform and took questions only from businessmen, not from journalists.
“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.
"Elon Musk said the problem with it is that AI will always remember your conversations.
“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.”
It was all just mad in many ways because what you didn’t have at this event was any sense that Elon Musk, through his business activities, actually is a huge political actor.
“He owns satellites, he owns internet services along with social media sites. He is increasingly one of the most powerful figures in the world. It is up to him whether or not to restore internet connectivity to Gaza if Israel turns it off, he has the ability to intervene in the war in Ukraine by either helping or not Ukrainian forces challenge Russia. He’s got political views on migration.
“But we didn’t get any sense from Rishi Sunak that he was challenging him, that he was dealing with somebody else who is a big political force, some of which might be a force for good, some of which might not be a force for good.
“Instead you had a prime minister who was selling Britain to this guy who is already the richest man in the world.
“So it was an event in which Rishi Sunak hoped that some of the celebrity, the ambition and the entrepreneurism of Elon Musk might even rub off on him, but you didn’t get the sense of a prime minister going toe-to-toe with a political figure who sometimes can do challenging stuff that Britain might oppose.
“It was a very, very weird event indeed.”
Cotes's frank takedown of the event has. since gone viral with many praising him and deriding Sunak and Musk in equal measure.
This is quite the upsum. Well worth your time if you missed Elon And Rishi
Sunak meeting Musk sounds very reminiscent of an 8 year old Blue Peter competition winner interviewing their sporting hero. Embarrassing.
At last someone says it - @elonmusk is not some benevolent AI god but a powerful and often flaky political player and Sunak should have treated him as such not indulged in mutual belly rubs
Very good @SamCoatesSky !! It needed to be said. Farcical and embarrassing "interview" of Elon Musk by our Prime Minister who really has better things to do.
It does feel rather like you\u2019re at the tail end of a government when a major political journalist just talks to camera for several minutes straight without hesitation about how mad the PM\u2019s behaviour was today.