Musk: ‘AI stresses me out’

ONS 2022 oil and gas conferenceTesla founder Elon Musk attends Offshore Northern Seas 2022 in Stavanger, Norway August 29, 2022. NTB/Carina Johansen via REUTERS

DETROIT, March 1 (Reuters) – Elon Musk has clashed often with securities regulators and highway safety authorities, but there's one area the Tesla and Twitter chief says the government should regulate now: Artificial Intelligence.

"AI stresses me out," Musk said near the end of a more than three-hour presentation to Tesla investors about company plans.

Tesla's own ambitious artificial intelligence efforts had a featured role in the presentation of Musk's "Master Plan 3", the third part of a series of papers on how to expand Tesla and convert the world to clean energy.

There was a video of a Optimus humanoid robot, being developed by Tesla, manipulating parts of other Optimus robots as if it intended to assemble replicas of itself. Executives gave detailed presentations about how Tesla is using artificial intelligence technology to train vehicles to drive themselves – an effort under scrutiny by federal and state authorities.

But when asked by an analyst if AI could help Tesla build cars, Musk took a less optimistic line.

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"I don't see AI helping us make cars any time soon," he said. "At that point … there's no point in any of us working."

Earlier this week, Musk appeared to confirm via Twitter reports that he is recruiting a team of AI technologists to build a competitor to OpenAI's text-based ChatGPT, backed by Microsoft Corp, (MSFT.O) and similar systems under development at Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google, Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) and other large technology platforms.

Musk tweeted last December that ChatGPT, a text-based chatbot developed by OpenAI that can draft prose, poetry or even computer code on command, "is scary good. We are not far from dangerously strong AI." He amplified those concerns for the audience of Tesla analysts Wednesday.

"I'm a little worried about the AI stuff," Musk said from a stage where he was flanked by 16 Tesla executives, including Autopilot head.

"We need some kind of, like, regulatory authority or something overseeing AI development," Musk said. "Make sure it's operating in the public interest. It's quite dangerous technology. I fear I may have done some things to accelerate it."

Tesla's effort to enable its cars to drive themselves safely is "obviously useful" AI, Musk said.

"I don't know. Tesla is doing good things in AI," he said. Musk paused, then sighed. "This one stresses me out. I don't know what to say about it."

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