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Digital superintelligence could take over China? Know what Elon Musk said

Elon Musk believes China is a valuable ally in addressing the risks and guidelines surrounding artificial intelligence (AI), but if it creates a "digital superintelligence", it cold face problems.

By: MD IJAJ KHAN
Updated on: Jul 14 2023, 10:57 IST
Elon Musk acknowledges China's support for global AI guidelines. (REUTERS)

Billionaire Elon Musk recently expressed his belief that China stands alongside humanity when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI). He stated that China would be open to collaborating with the international community to establish common guidelines for this transformative technology, which he refers to as a "civilisational risk."

Musk also underlined the threat that AI poses to China. The Tesla CEO says he told the Chinese leadership that if they create some kind of a Digital superintelligence, then it could very well take over the Communist Party itself and through this powerful platform, even China itself. “No government wants to find itself unseated by a digital superintelligence,” Musk said. He added that this point actually hit its mark and the Chinese authorities took note of it.

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Musk made these remarks during a Twitter Spaces call held on Wednesday, where he discussed his experiences interacting with senior leadership in China during a visit in May. During these meetings, he engaged in conversations about the potential perils of AI and its capacity to wield power.

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Reflecting on his discussions, Musk asserted, "I believe this resonated with them. No government wishes to be unexpectedly surpassed by a digital superintelligence."

The launch of xAI and Musk's quest for understanding AI

The Twitter Spaces call, centred on the "future of AI," that coincided with the unveiling of Musk's latest venture, xAI, an ambitious company that seeks to compete with OpenAI and other technology firms while exploring the profound nature of the universe.

Musk explained his motivation, stating, "I believe that pursuing a comprehensive understanding of the universe ultimately benefits humanity, as humanity itself is far more fascinating than its absence."

The call featured notable attendees, including Congressman Ro Khanna and Congressman Mike Gallagher, and served as a platform for discussing the evolving landscape of AI.

Musk has frequently expressed concerns about the potential hazards of AI acquiring superintelligence capabilities beyond human control. His apprehensions have grown more pronounced since the introduction of OpenAI's ChatGPT.

During the call, Musk acknowledged that if he could halt the advancement of AI, he would consider doing so. However, he recognized the impracticality of such a scenario.

China's interest in collaborative AI regulation

Musk's visit to China was met with great acclaim, as he was granted opportunities to meet senior government officials and influential business leaders. Discussions centred around various topics, with AI being a prominent subject of conversation.

Based on his interactions, Musk noted that there appeared to be interest in China to collaborate on establishing a "cooperative international framework" for regulating AI. However, he also acknowledged a degree of scepticism and distrust towards the United States.

Congressman Gallagher expressed scepticism regarding China's willingness to control the pace at which their AI capabilities progress, raising concerns about the potential for techno-totalitarian control.

Elon Musk's remarks underscore his belief in the importance of international cooperation to navigate the complexities and risks associated with AI. His optimism regarding China's role as part of "Team Humanity" reveals his hope for a collective effort to shape AI in a way that aligns with the interests and well-being of humanity as a whole.

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First Published Date: 14 Jul, 10:34 IST
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