ANALYSIS: Elon Musk Officially Joins the AI Battle, Predicts Human Job Losses

Mr. Musk also revealed to investors his plans to build a supercomputer to support xAI’s development.
ANALYSIS: Elon Musk Officially Joins the AI Battle, Predicts Human Job Losses
Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla and SpaceX and owner of X Holdings Corp., speaks at the Milken Institute's Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Calif., on May 6, 2024. (Apu Gomes/Getty Images)
Raven Wu
Sean Tseng
6/4/2024
Updated:
6/4/2024
0:00

The year 2024 has emerged as a fiercely competitive time in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), with both OpenAI and Google unveiling more advanced and lifelike AI systems. Recently, Elon Musk’s xAI has entered the fray, announcing a significant milestone with $6 billion raised in funding. However, Mr. Musk’s prediction that AI will replace human jobs casts a chilling shadow over these advancements.

On May 27, xAI, a company founded by Musk, announced that it had secured $6 billion in a series B funding round, valuing the company at $24 billion. This funding round received substantial backing from prominent investment firms and banks, including Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, and Kingdom Holding.
The company statement noted that xAI had launched its Grok-1 model on the social media platform X last November, with the open-source occurring in March this year. Since then, the company has released the more advanced Grok-1.5 and Grok-1.5V models. Future developments are anticipated, with new products expected to hit the market in the coming months, enhancing xAI’s initial offerings and establishing advanced infrastructure.

xAI emphasized that its primary focus is on developing advanced AI systems that are realistic, highly capable, and benefit humanity to the greatest extent possible. The company’s mission is to understand the true nature of the universe.

On the same day, Igor Babuschkin, Mr. Musk’s top AI researcher, shared the fundraising news on the X platform, inviting individuals interested in building Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and exploring the universe to join xAI. Mr. Musk echoed this sentiment, stating, “Join xAI if you believe in our mission of understanding the universe, which requires maximally rigorous pursuit of the truth, without regard to popularity or political correctness.”

Mr. Musk also revealed to investors his plans to build a supercomputer to support xAI’s development. This supercomputer, comprising 100,000 H100 Nvidia GPUs, is expected to be operational by next fall. He mentioned that training the Grok-2 model required about 20,000 H100s, and future models, including Grok-3, will need 100,000 chips.

Mr. Musk assured investors that he would personally oversee the timely delivery of the supercomputer and there are also discussions about a potential collaboration with Oracle to develop it. Neither xAI nor Oracle has commented on this matter.

Musk’s Predictions About AI

On May 24, Mr. Musk participated via video conference in the 2024 “Viva Technology” startup conference held in Paris, France, where he shared his views and predictions about AI. The insights are alarming.
Mr. Musk suggests that in the future, people will need to communicate with computers through chips to accelerate human thinking abilities and keep up with AI because the current “rate of communication” between the human brain and computers is “very slow.” This concept aligns with the goals of Mr. Musk’s Neuralink company, which is developing brain chips aimed at enhancing human brain function to compete with or keep pace with AI.

He further warned that the two largest AI players, Google Gemini and OpenAI in partnership with Microsoft, “are not maximally truth seeking” and “are pandering to political correctness.”

“[For] example, when Google Gemini came out, one of the questions people asked [was] which is worse, misgendering Caitlyn Jenner or global thermonuclear warfare. And it said, misgendering Caitlyn Jenner,” Mr. Musk explained.

“I think that’s extremely dangerous because it could conclude [that] the best way to avoid misgendering would be to destroy all humans, then misgendering is impossible.”

Regarding AI safety, Mr. Musk said, “One of the challenges you have with programming explicit morality into AI is [the] one Luigi problem—if you program Luigi, you can automatically invert that and create bad Luigi.”

“So what? What you cannot invert is the truth of physical reality ... you can’t invert the rules of physics. You can’t invert logic,” Mr. Musk added.

“I think what regulators should be concerned about is, is the AI being rigorously truthful? ... And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Japanese computer engineer Kiyohara Jin questioned the positive development of AI, citing “a lag in human morality.”

“From the current trend, the faster AI develops, the faster human jobs will be replaced. If human brains are implanted with chips, people will be completely controlled by machines. Discussing the positive development of AI is premature because human morality has not kept up,” Mr. Kiyohara said.

US businessman Elon Musk addresses participants via videoconference during the 8th edition of the Vivatech technology startups and innovation fair, at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, France, on May 23, 2024. (Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)
US businessman Elon Musk addresses participants via videoconference during the 8th edition of the Vivatech technology startups and innovation fair, at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, France, on May 23, 2024. (Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)

‘AI Will Take Over Human Jobs and Education’

In the past, Mr. Musk was a vocal opponent of the rapid development of AI, calling for swift government regulation. However, as AI technology advances, his views appear to be evolving.

When asked during the conference about the impact of AI on humans, he said, “In a benign scenario, probably none of us will have a job. There would be universal high income, not universal basic income [but] ‘universal high income.’ There would be no shortage of goods and services.”

However, his next words were thought-provoking: “If the computer and robot can do everything better than you, what meaning does your life have? ... In a negative scenario ... we’re in deep trouble.”

Mr. Musk also discussed how AI will affect children and education. He stated, “Parents will still be responsible for [their children’s] values and morals, [but] AI will dramatically affect education. Because AI is a patient teacher, it will be almost always correct, and can tailor lessons specifically to the child. In the future.”

Despite this, he expressed concern about the impact of social media and AI algorithms on children.

“I do worry that kids these days are being trained by social media. And the social media AI algorithms are basically dopamine maximizers ... I would urge parents to limit the amount of social media that children are able to see.”

Mr. Musk’s predictions about AI’s impact on humans and children echo those of Zack Kass, a former senior marketing executive at OpenAI, who suggested in January that most people won’t have jobs and will heavily rely on AI in their daily lives.

This vision aligns with the “Moore’s Law of Everything“ proposed by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in 2021. Both believe that humans will not need to work for survival to live an ideal life, but can enjoy the conveniences brought by technology.
However, at an AI and geopolitics video conference held by the Brookings Institution in early May, Mr. Altman expressed concern, stating, “The thing I’m most worried about right now is just the sort of, the speed and magnitude of the socioeconomic change that this may have, and what the impacts on what that will be.”
Japanese electronic engineer Satoru Ogino shares these concerns. He told The Epoch Times, “Having high incomes without needing to work is merely a utopian fantasy. Only through hard work do things gain true meaning, and only then will people cherish everything. If everything becomes readily available, people will lose their sense of happiness and the meaning of existence, leading to greater crises and problems.”

AI Intensifies Executives’ Concerns About Job Security

Mr. Altman’s speech in May highlighted a growing issue: an increasing number of executives and employees are worried about their jobs being replaced by AI. However, they are also compelled to use or learn AI to keep up with the current trend and wave of AI adoption.
According to the annual Work Trend Index released by Microsoft and LinkedIn on May 8, a survey was conducted to examine the impact of AI on the labor market. The index surveyed 31,000 people from 31 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, India, and Australia.

The survey found that 75 percent of employees use AI in the workplace, but more than half of the respondents hide the fact that they are using AI for their most important tasks. This is because over half of them fear that their jobs are most susceptible to being replaced by AI, yet they are forced to learn and utilize AI to improve their work efficiency.

This displacement has already sparked a wave of protests. Many filmmakers and studios have long relied on AI for production, causing directors, voice actors, and scriptwriters to worry about their livelihoods.

Last year, Hollywood writers and actors went on a collective strike because production companies were extensively using AI, resulting in layoffs or pay cuts. The strike only ended when the union reached an agreement with the producers’ alliance.
Previously, AND Digital, an IT services and consulting company, conducted a survey of 600 business leaders regarding the acceleration or deceleration of corporate value. The results showed that nearly 43 percent of CEOs believed they would be replaced by AI (digital) CEOs. Additionally, 45 percent of CEOs admitted they were secretly using AI tools like ChatGPT to complete various tasks and passing them off as their own work.

The rapid development of AI makes Mr. Ogino uneasy. He said, “Whether AI development is positive or negative, it will bring disaster to humanity. In a negative scenario, the continuation of human survival will face enormous challenges. In a positive scenario, humans will become overly dependent on AI for all decisions, cease to labor and think, and eventually become puppets manipulated by AI, altering their thoughts and behaviors.”

Ellen Wan and Kane Zhang contributed to this report.