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Elon Musk says artificial intelligence isn't 'necessary for anything'

Elon Musk has hit out at artificial intelligence (AI), saying it is not "necessary for anything we're doing".

The Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX owner claimed super-intelligence was "a double-edged sword".

"If you have a genie that can grant you anything, that presents a danger," according to the billionaire, who said AI could be used to create "drone wars".

Speaking via video link to the Wall Street Journal's (WSJ) CEO Council Summit in London, Musk said he expects governments around the world to utilise AI to develop weapons before anything else.

"So just having more advanced weapons on the battlefield that can react faster than any human could is really what AI is capable of."

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"Any future wars between advanced countries or at least countries with drone capability will be very much the drone wars."

When asked if AI advances the end of an empire, he replied: "I think it does. I don't think (AI) is necessary for anything that we're doing."

"There's a little late-stage empire vibes right now," he also said.

In March, Musk was among a number of technology experts who urged scientists to pause developing AI so it does not pose a risk to humanity.

More than 1,000 people signed an open letter demanding all labs stop training AI systems for at least six months.

They called for a temporary halt to the "dangerous race" to develop systems more powerful than OpenAI's recently launched GPT-4.

If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, the letter says governments should step in and institute a moratorium.

Read more:
What is GPT-4 and how is it improved?
Assessing UK's 'light touch' AI regulation

The prevalence of AI has increased massively in recent years, with systems such as chatbot ChatGPT quickly becoming part of everyday life.

The success of ChatGPT and image generation tools like Midjourney has supercharged an AI arms race between established tech giants Microsoft and Google, with the former backing OpenAI's software and its long-time rival developing its own Bard chatbot.

While they have impressed with their ability to pass exams, write speeches, and solve equations, sceptics have warned they could be used to spread misinformation and aid criminal activity.

Musk said: "One of the first places you need to be careful of where AI is used is social media to manipulate public opinion."

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When asked how big a shift it will be in the upcoming US presidential election, he replied: "I think it's something we need to be on the lookout for in the way of minimising the impact of AI manipulation.

"We're certainly taking that seriously at Twitter and I think we're putting in all the protections to detect large-scale manipulation of the system."

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will announce his 2024 presidential campaign in a Twitter Spaces event with Musk on Wednesday.

Mr DeSantis, seen as Donald Trump's leading rival for the Republican nomination, will reveal his plans in an audio conversation with the owner of Twitter.