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Elon Musk says AI has ‘potential of civilization destruction’


Billionaire Elon Musk reportedly plans to launch his own rival to ChatGPT even as he sounds the alarm about the “dangerous” potential of advanced artificial intelligence – warning it could destroy human civilization if left unchecked.

Musk is already assembling a team of AI researchers and engineers and talking to investors about pouring money into a generative AI project that would directly compete with OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with his plans.

Nevertheless, the Tesla and SpaceX boss – who was one of the early backers of OpenAI – issued a dire forecast about AI’s destructive capabilities in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that will air Monday night.

“AI is more dangerous than, say, mismanaged aircraft design or production maintenance or bad car production,” Musk said in a short clip from the interview.

“In the sense that it has the potential — however small one may regard that probability, but it is non-trivial — it has the potential of civilization destruction,” Musk added.

Musk’s pursuit of an AI project is drawing scrutiny given his vocal admonitions about the technology. Last month, Musk joined with more than 1,000 experts in signing an open letter advocating for a six-month pause in the development of advanced AI systems.

The letter argued the pause was necessary to protect the public until proper safety protocols have been developed and vetted by independent experts for the industry.

The experts cited potential risks including the spread of “propaganda and untruth,” job losses, the development of “nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us,” and the risk of “loss of control of our civilization.”


Elon Musk
Elon Musk said AI has the potential to destroy civilization.
Fox News

The letter’s detractors, including ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman, argue a six-month pause in AI development would allow international rivals to gain a crucial advantage over the US.

Musk has “secured thousands of high-powered GPU processors from Nvidia” that will aid his goal of building an AI language model similar to ChatGPT, according to the FT’s report.

The billionaire has reportedly hired Igor Babuschkin, a prominent researcher who recently left Google parent Alphabet’s DeepMind AI unit, along with a handful of others.

The project is said to be operating separately from Musk-owned Twitter and Tesla, though he may tap resources from his business empire to aid its development.

“A bunch of people are investing in it . . . it’s real and they are excited about it,” a source told the FT regarding Musk’s project.

Musk comments to Carlson were not the first time the mogul has warned of an impending AI-triggered doomsday


AI
AI is under intense scrutiny given the success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

In February, Musk asserted that AI was “one of the biggest risks to the future of civilization.”

“AI is both positive or negative – it has great promise, great capability but also, with that comes great danger,” Musk said during an appearance at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

“I mean, you look at say, the discovery of nuclear physics. You had nuclear power generation but also nuclear bombs,” he added.

Musk co-founded ChatGPT creator OpenAI, though he has since left its board of directors and has no stake in the organization.

Insider first reported that Musk recently bought 10,000 graphics processing units as part of an early-stage generative AI project.


Elon Musk
Elon Musk is the CEO of Twitter.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

A separate report from The Information in February said Musk had spoken with AI experts, including Babuschkin, as part of a plan to develop a rival to ChatGPT, which the Twitter boss purportedly believes has gone “woke.”

Musk’s interview with “Tucker Carlson Tonight” airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET.



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