‘I Tried To Warn The Public For Years’: Elon Musk Said He Cautioned Obama About AI Long Ago
Elon Musk
Michael Gonzalez via Getty Images

Elon Musk said on Sunday that he spent his only meeting with President Barack Obama warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence and encouraging regulation of the technology.

Software developer Mckay Wrigley wrote on social media that AI would continue to see “exponential growth” in the coming years. He contended that those who thought one year ago that the world would currently have GPT-4, a powerful large language model currently enabling the most recent version of mass-market AI processing system ChatGPT, were considered lunatics, adding that AI technology would hit skeptics “like an asteroid” over the next decade.

“I saw it happening from well before GPT-1, which is why I tried to warn the public for years,” Musk responded in the comments. “The only one on one meeting I ever had with Obama as President I used not to promote Tesla or SpaceX, but to encourage AI regulation.”

Obama indeed attended a cybersecurity summit at Stanford University in 2015 and later dined with Musk at the restaurant Spruce. The former commander-in-chief also toured SpaceX operations in Cape Canaveral, Florida, alongside the world’s current richest man.

Musk is a co-founder of OpenAI, the Microsoft-backed company which developed ChatGPT, as well as the chief executive of Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter. He recently signed an open letter with hundreds of other technology leaders which called for a six-month moratorium on developing AI solutions stronger than GPT-4 as the world considers possible ramifications of the technology.

“Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders,” the letter said. “Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable. This confidence must be well justified and increase with the magnitude of a system’s potential effects.”

Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jan Hatzius and three other senior analysts noted in a recent report that generative AI systems could have “potentially large macroeconomic effects” and produce “significant disruption” in labor markets. Musk also believes ChatGPT is an example of “training AI to be woke” and has approached senior researchers about creating alternatives.

The open letter came after Microsoft announced that ChatGPT would be integrated into search engine Bing and internet browser Edge, allowing users to locate information or understand websites with more ease. Google revealed one day earlier that Bard, an experimental conversational AI service, would soon be added to the company’s search engine, which has dominated the market for two decades. Amazon unveiled the forthcoming availability of multiple AI products last week, while executives at Meta reportedly spend most of their time developing the company’s AI capabilities for applications such as social media advertisements.


Other technology experts asserted that the concerns in the open letter were exaggerated and noted that adversarial nations such as China will not pause their AI development efforts. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is considering steps to regulate AI as the generative language systems induce a development race in the technology sector.

“Good news,” Musk responded upon news of the forthcoming legislative effort. “AI regulation will be far more important than it may seem today.”

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