Elon Musk: AI poses a ‘civilizational risk’ if not regulated

Credit: CNBC

Elon Musk was among a number of top technology executives who met at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday for a Senate forum discussing artificial intelligence (AI). During the private discussion, Musk reportedly echoed warnings of the threat AI poses to humanity if action is not taken to regulate the emerging technology.

Musk warned lawmakers that AI could pose a “civilizational risk” if not regulated, according to Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) in a report from NBC News. Lummis said she wrote the phrase down in her notebook after being struck by it, later showing it to a pair of reporters.

Other tech executives attending the forum included Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, Alphabet (Google) CEO Sundar Pichai, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and more. The meeting was not open to the public, and in addition to the executives, labor leaders and civil rights organizations that were invited, over 60 senators attended.

The news comes after Musk joined several other industry professionals in signing a call to pause development of certain AI systems earlier this year. Altman did not sign the letter, though he later went on to help pen an OpenAI document calling for increased governance over superintelligent systems.

Alongside efforts at Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, The Boring Company and X, Musk also launched xAI earlier this year, which is an AI startup that says it intends to “understand the true nature of the universe.”

Following the meeting, Musk spoke with CNBC reporters outside the Capitol as he left, noting that attendees were nearly all in agreement that steps needed to be taken toward regulating AI.

“This meeting may go down in history as being very important for the future of civilization,” Musk said.

When asked if he thought legislation would come out of this meeting, Musk answered “probably,” though he isn’t sure what the timeframe for such legislation would look like. Additionally, Musk said in the interview that nearly everyone raised their hands when Schumer asked who was in favor of regulation on AI development, which he called a “good sign.”

Reporters also pressed Musk on what kind of action the Senate might take in response to the forum. While he declined to know exactly what the government would do, he alluded to the past creation of regulatory agencies, later saying that “perhaps” a separate department of AI could be created.

Before leaving, Musk was asked if he thought AI would destroy humanity. Musk responded, “There is some chance that is above zero that AI will kill us all. I think it’s low.”

“But if there’s some chance, I think we should also consider the fragility of human civilization.”

You can watch Elon Musk’s full interview with CNBC following the Senate forum below.

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Elon Musk: AI poses a ‘civilizational risk’ if not regulated
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