Elon Musk Doubles Down on Free Speech, Offers Ominous Warning About Artificial Intelligence


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

Whatever one may think of Tesla, SpaceX and X mogul Elon Musk, it’s impossible to deny that he’s a sharp person with a lot of interesting thoughts.

Given that, when the billionaire entrepreneur speaks — even in a room full of people who might not agree with his ideology — people tend to listen.

And those paying attention to Musk’s commentary the morning of June 19 at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (often just referred to as Cannes Lions) in France may have walked away with a lingering sense of dread — and a slight spark of hope.

As for the dread, Musk directly addressed the innumerable benefits and potentially catastrophic detriments of artificial intelligence.

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“One cannot be 100 percent optimistic or completely pessimistic,” he said. “I generally would agree with Geoff Hinton — he’s one of the sort of godfathers of AI.”

After a quick shill for the “AI community” on his social media platform, the tech entrepreneur got to the gritty numbers.

“[Hinton] thinks it’s sort of 10, 20 percent probability of something terrible happening,” Musk said.

Do you think the growth of AI is a good thing for humanity?

When pressed about what “something terrible” would entail, he mentioned “annihilation or whatever” before he pushed back a bit by reminding people that a 20 percent catastrophe rate still meant that “the glass is 80 percent full.”

“The way I’ve reconciled myself to a negative outcome with AI is that … Let’s say, even if it was the worst-case scenario and we’re going to be annihilated, would I want to be around to see it?” Musk asked a bit later in the interview. “And I’m like, ‘Probably, yes. OK.’

“So, uh, fatalism.”

He also addressed existentialism concerns with AI and a “crisis of meaning.”

“If the AI can do everything that you can do but better, then what is the point of doing things?” Musk asked.

(There is a clear biblical answer to that question, but that’s a longer discussion for a different piece.)

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As to how one can combat some of these potential AI pitfalls, Musk mentioned an interesting factor: “So in terms of AI safety, I think the most important things are to train the AI to be as truthful as possible and to be curious.”

Musk’s mention of “truthful” directly connects to the other major topic he wanted to discuss at Cannes Lions.

He was asked about telling Disney CEO Bob Iger and other advertisers to “go f*** yourself” in November amid pressure to moderate X with a leftist tilt.

Musk has long fought against any attempts to restrict the platform, and for better and for worse, he has largely held to that promise.

When asked to elaborate on those comments, he softened his stance just a smidge but doubled down on his commitment to free speech.

“[The comment] wasn’t to advertisers as a whole,” Musk said, before explaining that the vulgar taunt was more a commentary about the importance of free speech.

And would he change that approach if it meant he could bring in more advertisers to X?

“If we have to make a choice between censorship and [making] money or … free speech and losing money, we’re going to pick the second,” Musk said. “We’re going to support free speech rather than … agree to be censored for money.”

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, Korean
Topics of Expertise
Sports, Entertainment, Science/Tech