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Elon Musk vs Jack Ma: When Two Tech Titans Clashed Over AI At China Summit

Elon Musk vs Jack Ma: When Two Tech Titans Clashed Over AI At China Summit

Harshajit Sarmah

There are thousands and thousands of podcast where people discuss the impact of technology, but a debate between two heavyweights that took place at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai has become the talk of the town.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Jack Ma, Chinese billionaire and co-founder of the multinational conglomerate Alibaba Group, had an awkward 45 minutes-long debate over the risks and benefits of artificial intelligence.

The World’s Heavyweights Take On AI

Even though the debate has gone viral all over the internet, let us have another look that the thoughts put forward from these visionaries. Here are some of the major points the Ma and Musk emphasised on:

The debate started with the most-talked-about aspect of technology — Artificial Intelligence (AI). And as the world was expecting, Musk has again doubled down on the consequences and dangers of AI. “People underestimate the capability of AI. They sort of think it’s a smart human. But it’s going to be much smarter than the smartest human,” said Musk.

On the other hand, Ma was optimistic and believes AI poses no threat to humanity. While saying that he is “not a tech guy,” the Chinese rich man said, “I think AI can help us understand humans better. I don’t think AI is a threat or something terrible. Human beings are smart enough to learn. People like us, we are street smart, we’re never scared of that,” Ma emphasised.

Furthermore, as the debate progressed, Musk emphasised more about AI being a threat to the human race. He said that AI will reach a point where it just completely simulates a person, like many people simultaneously. The real-life Tony Stark, Elon Musk even said that humans are already cyborgs as we are all so well-integrated with our phones and our computers. “The phone is like an extension of yourself. If you forget your phone, it’s like a missing limb,” Musk added

However, both the experts had different opinions on the implications of the technology. And unlike Musk, Ma countered, “Computers are only one of the clever tools that humans created, but there will be more tools that human beings will create that are much cleverer than computers.”

That is not all, the almost hour-long talk explored more aspects of the hot button issue like jobs and education. Ma believes that even though people are worried about AI taking human jobs, it would create new jobs, and would also help in reducing the time required. Talking about education, Ma shared he is more concerned about this. He feels that the education system needs to be changed — the way kids are taught to be more creative and constructive. “This is the key…Computers only have chips, men have hearts. It’s the heart where the wisdom comes from,” Ma added.  

Coming to Elon Musk, he said, “The way education works is extremely low bandwidth. It’s extremely slow. Lectures are the worst.”

These are not the only things that the biggies have debated, there were topics where Ma asked Musk about his curiosity for Mars. And the Tesla CEO said that he thinks it’s important to take the set of actions that are most likely to continue consciousness into the future. “I think we should not take for granted that consciousness will continue because we have not encountered any aliens,” Musk said. While Ma said he is not interested in Mars, rather is interested to talk about earth, “I admire that you want to go on to Mars. I am more interested in Earth.”

This is how Twitterati reacted 

When it comes to AI, Musk’s views and predictions have always been really strong. Also, it is not the first interval that he has emphasised on his dire warnings about the danger of AI. In one event, Musk even said that AI is more dangerous than nuclear warheads. Further, he also once made a scary statement where he said that the global competition to be the country with the most sophisticated AI will be the cause of the next world war.

Ma, as he already said that he is not a tech guy and his thoughts are more focused on the human side. He doesn’t feel that technology would ever be able to take control over the human race.

Over the years, technology has witnessed major transformation — some has been used for the good and some has gone through adversarial use. One cannot actually predict what technologies like AI is up to. Rather, it depends on humans —how we use it. 

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