• Magdalena Gołębiewska

Musk vs Ma - AI debate. Why it is great to die.

I've been waiting for that debate quite a while. Expected brilliant conversation between brilliant minds. Maybe because set the expectations so high, I've got slightly disappointed. Just slightly, overall it was great to listen that bit chaotic, but still fantastic debate (or should I say 2 monologues since there was not much dialogue here :)) about future, even though, clearly they do not like each other too much.


Listen the whole debate here:


I have to admit, both guys have a vision, as well as both are quite down to Earth.

Musk isn't maybe well spoken, but I completely get his sense of humour. I also felt that couple of times he was drifting into meanders of his own mind and thinking. Which I do quite often myself, so can relate to :D.


Jack Ma on the other hand, is really down to Earth, focused on NOW, HERE not IN THE UNKNOWN FUTURE. Can tell, he got even a bit INPATIENT with Musk. His vision however is clear for next 100 years, when Musk's vision goes much further, up to a million years and beyond.


The Chinese co-founder of Alibaba and the maverick industrialist behind Tesla and SpaceX frequently pulled pained expressions and raised eyebrows as they kicked off an AI conference with a dialogue that challenged attendees to keep up, veering from technology to Mars, death, and jobs.


The hot topic in the talk was of course AI, which has provoked increasing concern among scientists such as late British cosmologist Stephen Hawking who warned that it will eventually turn on and "annihilate" humanity. Jack Ma believes artificial intelligence poses "no threat" to humanity, but Elon Musk called that "famous last words" .

"Computers may be clever, but human beings are much smarter,"

Ma said.

"We invented the computer -- I've never seen a computer invent a human being."

While insisting that he is

"not a tech guy,"

the e-commerce mogul added:

"I think AI can help us understand humans better. I don't think it's a threat."

Musk countered:

"I don't know man, that's like, famous last words."

He said the

"rate of advancement of computers in general is insane",

sketching out a vision in which super-fast, artificially intelligent devices eventually tire of dealing with dumb, slow humans.

"The computer will just get impatient if nothing else. It will be like talking to a tree,"

Musk said. Mankind's hope lies in

"going along for the ride"

by harnessing some of that computing power, Musk said, as he offered an unabashed plug for his Neuralink Corporation.


Neuralink aims to develop implantable brain-machine interface devices, which conjures images of "The Matrix", whose characters download software to their brains that instantly turns them into martial arts masters.

"Right now we are already a cyborg because we are so well-integrated with our phones and our computers,"

said Musk.

"The phone is like an extension of yourself. If you forget your phone, its like a missing limb."

But humanity will also have more leisure time in the future as AI takes on much of the burden of transporting, feeding, and thinking for earthlings, said Ma.

"People could work as little as three days a week, four hours a day with the help of technology advances,"

he said.


Both guys, also agreed that education system has to and will change. We will spend more time doing activities which are connected with emotions and enjoying life. Especially, that life expectancy is supposed to be longer (up to 120 years). There will be much higher emphasis on creativity, dancing, emotional skills, which machines lack. Education system, needs to focus on those skills.


And staying with life expectancy, we could think that they will touch the problem of overpopulation on Earth, but.. both men came together on one point - that concerns about overpopulation were misguided.

"Assuming... there's a benevolent future with AI, I think that the biggest problem the world will face in 20 years is population collapse,"

said Mr Musk

"I want to emphasise this, the biggest issue in 20 years will be population collapse, not explosion collapse."

Mr Ma said he was absolutely in agreement.

"1.4 billion in China sounds a lot, but I think [over the] next 20 years we'll see this thing bring big trouble to China,"

he said.

"And the speed of population decreasing is going to speed up. Now you've got a collapse."

However, he suggested, using AI to help people live longer, healthier lives could be part of the solution.


Ma, who steps down next month as head of Alibaba Group, questioned Musk's push to develop spacecraft that could help us colonise Mars.

"We need a hero like you, but we need more heroes like us improving things on earth,"

Ma said.

Musk countered that we must master interplanetary travel in case earth becomes uninhabitable. Scientists like Hawking have said the same, citing the risk of nuclear war, a devastating virus, global warming or asteroid collision.


But not to worry: both agreed that


...human mortality is a good thing as each generation brings new ideas to the global challenges we face.


"It's great to die,"

Ma said, with Musk adding:

"That's probably true."

And what are your thoughts about Jack's and Elon's talk? Do you also have a feeling that does two will not became long life friends? But.. the beauty is in the diversity, we need all kinds of people, all kinds of brilliant minds, all kinds of brave people to build all kinds of companies which are changing the future, or maybe I should rather say, shaping the future.

Contact me at m.golebiewska@icloud.com or leave your email below and let's stay in tuoch. 

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