Elon Musk warns world to 'prepare for the worst' on AI at UK summit

Tech billionaire Elon Musk said the world should 'hope for the best and prepare for the worst from Artificial Intelligence.

Billionaire Elon Musk has warned the world to “hope for the best but prepare for the worst” from Artificial Intelligence, as he attended a UK summit aimed at regulating the technology.

The Tesla and X owner, who has previously raised concerns about the growth of artificial intelligence and its potential threat to humanity, is due to have a meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after the summit concludes on Thursday.

Speaking at the summit, he told broadcasters: “A little bit of fear [of AI] is probably wise… my personal opinion is that AI is at least 80% likely to be beneficial and perhaps 20% dangerous, although this is obviously speculative at this point.

“If we hope for the best but prepare for the worst, that seems a wise course of action.

“The very worst could be extremely bad but i think the probability of extremely bad is low.”

He is joined at the gathering by US Vice President Kamala Harris, who will warn in a speech on Wednesday afternoon of the “existential threats” posed by AI.

The summit – which is also being attended by representatives from Amazon, Google, Meta and Microsoft – was opened with a video from King Charles, who urged the international community to develop a way to mitigate the risks AI poses.

He said: “If we are to realise the untold benefits of AI, then we must work together on combatting its significant risks too.

‘We must work to combat risks of AI’: King Charles opens AI summit with video message

“AI continues to advance with ever greater speed toward models which some predict could surpass human abilities, even human understanding.

“There is a clear imperative to ensure that this rapidly evolving technology remains safe and secure, and because AI does not respect international boundaries, this mission demands international coordination and collaboration.”

Sunak called the summit in an attempt to push for the UK to play a major international role in AI regulation, but Ms Harris will stress that the US will continue to have a global leadership role on the issue.

The US AI Safety Institute (USAISI) being set up by Joe Biden’s administration will work alongside its UK counterpart, the White House said.

Harris is there instead of Harris President Biden, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are also not likely to attend.

In a speech in London, ahead of her attendance at the two-day AI safety summit being held in Bletchley Park, Harris will say: “Just as AI has the potential to do profound good, it also has the potential to cause profound harm, from AI-enabled cyberattacks at a scale beyond anything we have seen before to AI-formulated bioweapons that could endanger the lives of millions.

“These threats are often referred to as the ‘existential threats of AI’ because they could endanger the very existence of humanity.

The summit is being held at Bletchley Park. / Credit: PA

“These threats are, without question, profound, and demand global action.

“But let us be clear: there are additional threats that also demand our action, threats that are currently causing harm and which, to many people, also feel existential.”

She will welcome voluntary commitments made by tech firms on the use of AI, but will stress that legislation could be needed to ensure safety.

“As history has shown, in the absence of regulation and strong government oversight some technology companies choose to prioritise profit over the wellbeing of their customers, the security of our communities and the stability of our democracies.

“One important way to address these challenges — in addition to the work we have already done — is through legislation, legislation that strengthens AI safety without stifling innovation.”

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