Alibaba's Jack Ma and Tesla's Elon Musk's Interesting AI Debate in Shanghai

China just hosted the 2019 World Artificial Intelligence Conference. Here's what the two businessmen had to say.

Shanghai just hosted Tesla's CEO and founder Elon Musk, and none other than Jack Ma, billionaire, and co-founder of Alibaba was on stage with him. The two genius businessmen sat down at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference this year to discuss the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and how it will shape our future. 


Musk and Ma opposed each other's opinions on several topics that they covered in their 48-minute long debate, most significantly how we perceive AI.

Elon Musk: why we should believe we're "very dumb."

According to Elon Musk, "The biggest mistake AI researchers make is assuming they're intelligent. They're not, compared to AI."

Musk states in the debate that AI will take over humans, and be "vastly" smarter than us.

Ma is of another opinion - AI doesn't pose such a threat to us and that we as humans are smart enough to gauge this. In fact, Ma goes so far as to say that AI will assist in opening us up to better understand ourselves.

Musk says he isn't sure what to do with the type of situation where AI will be smarter than humans. All he has to say is: "I hope they're nice." 

Along with hoping for kind AI, Musk guesses that "For computers, talking with humans will be like talking to a tree."


In other words, AI will surpass us with its "insane" rate of advancement. Musk uses the rather accurate example that only 30 or 40 years ago, the main computer game that existed was "Pong," which was a very simplistic game. Compare that to nowadays, where games have 4D realistic environments and virtual reality.

"What will the next 30 to 40 years bring about?" asks Musk

Questions such as "What new jobs will AI bring about?" and "Will AI replace human beings in the future?" floated around the debate. 

Alibaba's Jack Ma and Tesla's Elon Musk's Interesting AI Debate in Shanghai
Jack Ma and Elon Musk at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, 2019. Source: CGTN/YouTube

On the one hand, Ma stated that as technology and medical advancements keep improving, so will robots and AI. They will most likely be the ones to take up positions that look after aging humans - as we live longer, we may need more assistance. 

On the other hand, Musk stated that AI would make jobs pointless, and probably the last job that will exist for humans is writing AI software. But, because Musk believes AI to be so intelligent, it will end up writing its own software.

His recommendations?

Study physics or engineering!

Ultimately, Musk believes we will be left behind as a human race, behind AI. "We don't have much time," he declares.

Between the fatalistic approach towards AI that Musk takes, combined with Ma's more personable and positive outlook, the debate opens up questions in our increasingly AI-driven world.


Watch and listen to the interesting debate in the above video. 

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