Mark Zuckerberg Warns Elon Musk: More People Will Die if We 'Slow Down Progress' on AI

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg blasted Elon Musk over his criticism of artificial intelligence at the Viva Technology conference in Paris on Thursday, suggesting that his fellow tech pioneer is holding back progress with his negative attitude.


His comments were in response to a question from the moderator about whether he was on friendly terms with Musk. “I don’t want to create a problem between you and Elon,” the moderator said, “but I would very much like to hear your opinion. Musk has been extremely skeptical about artificial intelligence. He wants to kill everything which has to do with artificial intelligence.”

Musk, who’s company Tesla is at the forefront of self-driving car technology, told attendees at the SXSW conference last year that he believes AI is more dangerous than nuclear warheads. “I am really quite close, I am very close, to the cutting edge in AI and it scares the hell out of me,” said Musk. “It’s capable of vastly more than almost anyone knows and the rate of improvement is exponential.” U.S. safety regulators are in the process of investigating 25,000 Tesla vehicles after recent fatalities at the hands of the vehicles.

Zuckerberg took issue with Musk’s fears about the future of AI, saying he was optimistic about the prospects. “I think that AI is going to unlock a huge amount of positive things, whether that’s helping to identify and cure diseases, to help cars drive more safely, to help keep our communities safe,” he opined.


“Over the long term, if we can get to a state where we have good self-driving cars—one of the leading causes of people dying is car accidents—and if we can get to the state where we have  good self-driving cars, then that is going to potentially massively reduce one of the leading causes of death and is a very important humanitarian thing that needs to be done,” said Zuckerberg.

“No technology comes out fully formed and we need the pioneers to be able to go work on this and take the issues seriously in order to be able to make forward progress and get to the state that we want,” he added. “We need to make sure that we don’t get too negative on this stuff because it’s too easy for people to point to an individual failure of technology and try to use that as an argument to slow down progress.”

Zuckerberg admitted that the issues Musk is dealing with related to his self-driving cars are serious and said Musk is indeed taking them seriously. He explained that Facebook is focusing on AI ethics as the company moves forward with the new technology, “But fundamentally I just think that AI is going to unlock so much good around helping to cure diseases, to keep people safe, to keep our communities safe.”


“If you want to be out there saying that we need to slow down progress on this, then I think if you’re doing that you need own some of the responsibly that every day that goes by that we don’t have cures for those diseases or safer self-driving cars, I don’t know that that’s necessarily doing the world a service,” said Zuckerberg.

He concluded by saying he’s very optimistic about the future of AI “as we move forward toward this greater good.”

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