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Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerbergs Public Clash Over AI

July 25, 2017 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:37 AM UTC

The two tech giants have different views on Artificial Intelligence, but who’s right?

[THEME MUSIC] ROBERT HACKETT: Welcome to Fortune Tech Debate, where we debate the issues of the day in two minutes. Today, we're chatting about Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, who have been lobbing insults at each other over AI. Jeff, who's right in this argument? JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Who's right? First, I got to say, cat fights between tech billionaires are great. ROBERT HACKETT: Gotta love it. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Yeah. But on this one, I'm with Mark Zuckerberg. He went into this rant recently, saying Elon Musk is being too hysterical about AI coming to destroy us all. Because Musk is warning that this stuff could take us over Skynet style and so on. And I think Zuckerberg actually offered a very reasoned plea, saying, AI is cool technology, and let's not crush it under irrational hysteria. ROBERT HACKETT: Well, Musk fired back on Twitter. And he said that he thinks that Zuckerberg's understanding of the subject is quote, "pretty limited." JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: That was kind of a burn. That wasn't very nice. ROBERT HACKETT: That was a sick burn. Ouch. And I got to say, I side with Musk here. AI is a really, really transformative, disruptive technology. And it's going to pose a threat to society. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I know Musk is backing an institute to worry about the ethics of it, which I think is a good thing, for the record. But I think sort of stirring up these fears of Skynet machines coming to get us. I mean, in your life has a machine come to get you yet? ROBERT HACKETT: Not yet. But I'm certainly looking out for them. Please don't subjugate me when you take over, robot overlords. Anyway, we've all seen Terminator. We've seen the sci-fi dystopias that can happen. But even if we don't go that far into it, if we just look at it from a labor perspective, I mean, AI is going to displace so many workers. Robots can do jobs quicker, better. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: How is this a new thing? How is this a new thing? What about the automation line, factory lines. Automatic bank machines disrupted tellers. This is not new. This is a social problem of the labor surplus. We've said before-- meanwhile, AI is cool technology. ROBERT HACKETT: It's definitely cool. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Driverless cars, like the one Musk is making, thanks to AI. ROBERT HACKETT: Musk is working on his Tesla. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: How about medical research? You can solve-- you can diagnose people much quicker, much better than before. Why shut this down? ROBERT HACKETT: Well, look, this is a technology. And just like any technology, it's got an upside and it's got a downside. I mean, nuclear technology as well-- you've got bombs, but you've got clean energy. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Exactly. ROBERT HACKETT: And with biotechs- JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Give AI a chance. All I'm saying is give AI a chance. ROBERT HACKETT: Well, I'm with Musk on this one. Time is up. Come to for more Tech Debate. [THEME MUSIC]