Elon Musk talks AI, free speech with Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Credit: Benjamin Netanyahu | X

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Monday in a live-streamed conversation on subjects like artificial intelligence (AI), free speech, and more. Most prominently, the two parties discussed the emerging landscape of AI and how to mitigate potential risks from the technology.

Netanyahu live-streamed the roughly 40-minute conversation, which took place in San Francisco, California, on X on Monday morning. The meeting was a part of a series of discussions Netanyahu plans to have with world AI leaders.

During the conversation, Netanyahu asked Musk how he thought the global rewards of AI could be maximized while minimizing its potential risks.

“I’ve actually met with a number of world leaders to talk about AI risk, because I think for a lot of people, unless you’re really invested in the technology, you don’t know just how significant the risk can be,” Musk responded.

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

Musk and Netanyahu also discussed various applications of AI, including potential uses like senior care and precision agriculture. Additionally, Musk noted that AI might look different than some people imagine, highlighting the massive, heat-producing data centers required to power artificial general intelligence (AGI) systems.

“If you see a movie like, say, Terminator, the intelligence appears to be in the robot,” Musk said. “But actually, the intelligence is in large data centers, large server centers. And you see some of these data centers, you just see computers, like, you can practically see the curvature of the Earth. That’s how long the corridors are.”

Musk described the “gigantic, massive warehouses” that are needed to house these kinds of servers, saying that, in some cases, these buildings could hold hundreds of thousands of computers. He went on to explain that this is what would be needed for “extreme digital superintelligence.”

Hundreds of protestors also gathered outside the San Francisco meeting, criticizing Netanyahu’s recent judicial overhaul plan, which seeks to cancel a key “reasonableness standard” in the country. When the meeting was first announced, Musk said he got “the most amount of negative pushback from people at Tesla about this interview than anything else” he has done in the past.

In the meeting, Netanyahu also asked Musk to condemn anti-semitism within the confines of free speech, commenting that free speech was a “foundational” part of democracy. The question came after the Tesla CEO threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League in recent weeks over a study claiming that X has seen a rise in hate speech since Musk took over.

“I hope you find within the confines of the First Amendment, the ability to stop not only anti-semitism, or roll it back as best you can, but any collective hatred of a people that anti-semitism represents,” Netanyahu said. “And I know you’re committed to that, and I hope you succeed in it. It’s not an easy task, but I encourage you and urge you to find the balance — it’s a tough one.”

“I’m sort of against attacking any group,” Musk responded. “Doesn’t matter who it is, I’m in favor of that which furthers civilization and which ultimately leads us to become a space-faring civilization, where we understand the nature of the universe.”

“We can’t do that if there’s a lot of infighting and hatred and negativity, so obviously I’m against antisemitism,” Musk added.

Following the one-on-one meeting, Netanyahu and Musk also had an AI roundtable discussion with OpenAI President Greg Brockman and MIT physicist Max Tegmark, which was also streamed on X.

You can watch the full conversation between Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Tesla CEO Elon Musk below on X, or watch the roundtable discussion on AI here.

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Elon Musk talks AI, free speech with Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu
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