Telsa billionaire Elon Musk joined thousands in signing an open letter calling for a halt of artificial intelligence – the next day, Microsoft boss Bill Gates penned a blog opposing the demands
An artificial intelligence battle between billionaires Elon Musk and Bill Gates has heated up as the battle of brains and money go head-to-head.
Telsa billionaire Elon Musk signed an open letter on March 30, which was organised by his charity-grant organisation Future of Life Institute, calling for a six-month pause of artificial intelligence.
He joined more than 13,000 Silicon Valley tech experts in signing the letter which warned against the profound risks AI could have on humanity.
Musk, who also runs SpaceX and Twitter, believes AI could pose “profound risks to society and humanity” and has called for proper safety protocols to be in place before AI is developed further.
The letter said: “Recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no-one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control.
“Nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us,” and the risk of “loss of control of our civilisation.
“We call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.”
Whilst the debate continues over whether AI has the potential to improve productivity amongst our fellow humans – it is also highly controversial.
The tech chief thinks AI will lead to the loss jobs as it powers chatbots like ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing and Google’s Bard.
They can perform humanlike conversations, write on an endless variety of topics and perform more complex tasks, such as writing computer code.
Huge companies such as Walmart and Amazon have already laid off nearly 118,000 people since 2023 with a further 140,000 job losses expected at the online retailer.
Walmart announced 65% of its stores will be “automated” by 2026 – leading to the loss of 2,000 workers as the company moves into automated technology.
It stated grocery packers would be cut from 12 down to 5 in its stores – with AI technology filling the roles.
The company said the move would reduce the need for lower-paid roles.
This led to Stuart Russell, a computer-science professor at the University of California, to also sign the letter calling for AI to be paused as the potential risks to humanity are unclear.
He told BBC News: “AI systems pose significant risks to democracy through weaponised disinformation, to employment through displacement of human skills and to education through plagiarism and demotivation.”
Mr Russell was one of the many tech bosses who signed the letter which states AI developers are “locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict or reliably control.”
However, Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates does not believe pausing AI would solve any challenges.
Just a day after Mr Musk signed the letter, Bill Gates penned a blog in defence of AI as he publicly rebuffed the Twitter’s chief concerns.
He said: “I don’t think asking one particular group to pause solves the challenges.
“Clearly there’s huge benefits to these things… what we need to do is identify the tricky areas.
“Any new technology that’s so disruptive is bound to make people uneasy, and that’s certainly true with artificial intelligence.
“I understand why—it raises hard questions about the workforce, the legal system, privacy, bias, and more.
“AI also make factual mistakes and experience hallucinations.”
However, James Grimmelmann, a Cornell University professor of digital and information law, criticised the Telsa billionaire for signing the letter.
He said: “A pause is a good idea, but the letter is vague and doesn’t take the regulatory problems seriously.
“It is also deeply hypocritical for Elon Musk to sign on given how hard Tesla has fought against accountability for the defective AI in its self-driving cars.”
As two of the most influential tech billionaires debate the impact artificial intelligence will have on the world, it remains to be seen if AI will ever be allowed to fully impact the world – and what the consequences will be.