Article: Elon Musk and Jack Ma debate AI, jobs, and education

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Elon Musk and Jack Ma debate AI, jobs, and education

The two top business leaders debate issues ranging from Artificial Intelligence, exploring Mars, and the future of jobs and education
Elon Musk and Jack Ma debate AI, jobs, and education

Two top business leaders Elon Musk and Jack Ma are sharply divided on a lot of things including Artificial Intelligence and its impacts on society. Elon Musk, the Chief Executive Officer of Tesla and Alibaba Group Holding Chairman Jack Ma met in Shanghai, China at World Artificial Intelligence Conference, and hold a debate on some hot topics such as AI, jobs, Mars, and more.

Elon Musk warned that AI would outsmart human intelligence one day, making most jobs pointless. “The most important mistake smart people make is that they think they’re smart,” he said. People underestimate the capability of AI; people think it’s smart human. AI is much more than that, argues Musk. AI is much smarter than the smartest human, he adds. So what do we do with a situation like that?  

New chapter with AI

I think we are going to open a new chapter with AI to our society, says Jack Ma. I am happy about the fact Artificial Intelligence is going to help us know the inside of human better, Ma adds. 

However, AI is not a threat. Because human beings can never create another thing that is smarter than human beings, believes Ma. People should develop confidence in AI and learn it. There are people who are worried about it but people like us are not scared of that. We think it’s great fun. We are ready to change ourselves to embrace it.

Musk has a different take on technology. “If you go back 40 years ago, 50 years ago maybe, you had Pong -- that was just two rectangles and a square, argues Musk. Now you’ve got 40 realistic real-time simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously. “If you assume any rate of improvement at all, I mean these games will be indistinguishable from reality. You will not be able to tell the difference. Either that or civilization will end,” adds Musk. 

Exploring Mars

Talking about Mars, Musk says, “the thing about Mars is that it’s important for us to take a set of actions that are most likely to continue consciousness into the future. We should not take for granted that consciousness will continue because we have not encountered any aliens. Where are the aliens? This is the Fermi paradox. This is one of the most important questions. How come we’ve not found any aliens?” There are people out there who think we have found aliens. Trust me, we have not, Musk says. There is a probability at a certain point that some either external force or some internal unforced error causes civilization to be destroyed or sufficiently impaired such that it can no longer extend it to another planet.

Ma, on the other hand, is concerned about people on earth. “It’s great to send people to Mars but we have to care about billions of people on Earth. We need heroes like you. But we need more heroes like us working hard on Earth improving things every day,” Ma argues.

Future of Jobs, education

Rise of every new technology brings with it worries for many. But the reality is, these technologies helped create new jobs, says Ma. He also says, we should not worry about jobs, because we will continue to have jobs. Ma says, “People worry about jobs, but I worry about education. The way we teach our kids are mainly designed for the industrial period. I think we need to change the way of education in terms of how we can teach our kids to be more creative and constructive. This is the key.”  We should reform our education system to make our children fit for future jobs.

Computers only have chips, men have hearts. It’s the heart where the wisdom comes from, argues Ma. For the next 10, 20 years, every human being, country, and the government should focus on reforming the education system, making sure our kids can find jobs, a job that only requires three days a week, four hours a day. If we don’t change the education system we are in, we will all be in trouble.

Musk argues that the best way to predict the future is to create it. But close the loop on being less wrong about the future. That’s the right way to think about education. Down the road with a Neuralink, you can just upload any subject instantly. So it would be like the Matrix. You want to fly a helicopter? No problem; if you wanted to do whatever, any given skill, you would just upload it instantly. The way education works right now it’s extremely low bandwidth. It’s extremely slow. Try the predict the future with less error. However, it’s hard. But you must try and adjust based on the outcome.

“I also feel that we should continue to try predicting the future and work on it. Don’t worry about errors and mistake because they make you learn and improve on things. The best resource on earth is not the clothes, not the oil, not the electricity -- it’s the human brain,” Ma argues. We should make sure that technology helps us improve our lives. I don’t believe that humans will ever be controlled by machines, it’s the other way around, concludes Ma.

Musk, however, disagrees with Ma adding that "we can make machines which are smarter than us". He cites the example of Deep Blue, the IBM supercomputer that defeated Kasparov way back in 1997 that was 22 years ago. The debate goes on. You can watch the video here.

Topics: #ExpertViews, Technology, Leadership

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