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LONDON — Elon Musk sat down with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London’s Lancaster House on Thursday night for a chat that veered closer to “love-in” than interview.
In the lavish gold-trimmed room where Theresa May gave one of her most famous Brexit speeches, the tech tycoon and British PM were joined by an audience that included Cabinet ministers, tech execs and — somewhat improbably — the American rapper will.i.am.
Here’s what we learned as the conversation unfolded:
Elon thinks you won’t need to work
The world’s richest man predicted a “future of abundance” from advances in AI models.
“There will come a point where no job is needed,” Musk said. “You can have a job if you want to have a job … but the AI will be able to do everything. I don’t know if that makes people comfortable or uncomfortable.”
Sunak, who will be out of a job himself after the next U.K. election if current polls are correct, laughed along nervously.
Rishi should leave the journalism to the pros
The format was meant to be Sunak interviewing Musk — but the PM’s lengthy questions diverged into listing his own achievements and heaping praise onto the tech tycoon.
“You’re known for being such a brilliant innovator and technologist,” the PM gushed, during one attempt to get a question out.
Rishi loves Big Tech
Sunak sees the AI Safety Summit as a key part of his legacy, and has been cozying up to leading AI lab founders over the last six months. This event was no different, with the PM taking his chance to list his pro-tech and pro-investment policies and to heap praise on Musk, who owns Tesla, SpaceX and X.
“It’s been a huge privilege and pleasure to have you here,” the British prime minister told Musk as they left the stage.
The love-in was mutual
Musk can play down the provocateur shtick and dial up the charm when he needs to.
He ticked every box for Sunak, praising London as a destination for AI companies, hailing the AI Safety Summit’s achievements and — crucially — backing Sunak’s decision to invite China to the Bletchley Park event, which has angered some lawmakers in the U.K. Conservative Party.
“Thank you for inviting them,” Musk said. “Having them here is essential. If they’re not participants, it’s pointless.”
AI is your new best friend … or worst enemy
It wasn’t just Sunak and Musk building a friendship on Thursday night. Musk predicted that humans more generally will make deep friendships with AI once the technology becomes intelligent enough.
But in the parts of the discussion where they debated the risks of frontier AI models, Musk called for a “referee” and an “off switch” built-in to models to “throw it into a safe state.”
Sunak also said AI-generated misinformation would be a “real issue” in elections taking place next year, including in the U.K. “Probably,” he added teasingly, given the election could yet be pushed to January 2025.
Musk, whose own social media platform has been plagued by misinformation, said he wanted to make X as “accurate as possible and as truthful as possible.”
Good luck, as they say, with that.