Elon Musk talks space, AI and more in Milken Institute interview

Credit: Milken Institute

During an interview at a global conference this week, Elon Musk talked about a wide range of themes, from space travel and artificial intelligence (AI), to birth rates, and more.

The Milken Institute think tank is holding its annual global conference in Santa Monica, California, this week, and Musk was interviewed by the group’s Chairman, Michael Milken, on Monday. During the interview, Milken presented several of Musk’s past quotes as prompts, to which Musk could respond and sometimes expand on things he has discussed in the past.

Like many of his interviews, the topics were somewhat wide-ranging, though they included many of the things he has been outspoken about in the past: his thoughts on humanity, education, SpaceX and Starlink, the need to make humans multi-planetary, aliens, merit-based economy, AI, birth rates, and still more.

The interview begins with Milken saying that the original title of the panel discussion was “How To Save The Human Race, and Other Light Topics.”

He then dives into an 11-year-old clip of Musk talking about the things he thought would have the biggest impact on humanity, to which the billionaire listed many of the things his companies cover today: the internet, sustainable energy including solar power and electric vehicles (EVs), and humanity becoming multi-planetary.

“Life cannot be about solving one thing or another. There have to be things that move your heart and make you excited to wake up in the morning,” Musk said, expanding on his prior quote. “And I think becoming a spacefaring civilization is one of those things.”

“If you ask kids anywhere in the world, like ‘what are some of the most inspiring things,’ like a five-year-old, six-year-old anywhere in the world, they’re going to gonna say space exploration is one of those things,” Musk added.

Notably, Musk also said that SpaceX uses nearly no AI in its operations, while he also later clarified some of his reasoning for why he wants humanity to become multi-planetary:

“Well, if you don’t become a multi-planet civilization, then you’re then you’re simply waiting around until you die from a self-inflicted wound or from some natural disaster like the dinosaurs got hit by a meteorite or something,” Musk said.

“Eventually, something like that is going to happen if you wait around long enough, the sun will expand to Earth and will be incinerated so that for sure is gonna happen.”

Along with discussing themes like editing the human genome (which he doesn’t necessarily suggest humanity does), and concerns surrounding the world’s falling birth rate, Musk also discussed AI—a topic he’s familiar with through both his work at Tesla and his newest company, xAI.

Regarding AI, he reiterated themes he recently spoke about at the Breakthrough Prize awards on making these systems as truthful as possible, even at the risk of being politically incorrect.

“I’ve thought about AI safety for a very long time, and I think you want to have a maximum truth-seeking AI. This is very important,” Musk explained. “They should not be taught to lie. It should not be taught to say things that are not true. Even if those things are politically incorrect, it should still say those what it believes to be true.”

He then compared the technology to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, saying that (spoiler), part of the movie’s point was that HAL 9000 ended the astronauts’ lives because it had been forced to lie.

You can watch the full interview with Musk below.

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Zachary Visconti: Zach is a renewable energy reporter who has been covering electric vehicles since 2020. He grew up in Fremont, California, and he currently resides in Colorado. His work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, KRON4 San Francisco, FOX31 Denver and many other publications. When he isn't covering Tesla or other EV companies for Teslarati, you can find him writing and performing music, drinking lots of coffee, or hanging out with his cat, Banks. Reach out to Zach at zach@teslarati.com, or you can find him on X @zacharyvisconti.
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