AI bunfight erupts: Musk says Zuckerberg’s AI knowledge is ‘limited’

25 Jul 2017

Elon Musk in Dublin in 2013. Image: Web Summit

Elon Musk slams Mark Zuckerberg’s understanding of AI as ‘limited’ while Zuckerberg describes Musk’s warnings on AI as ‘irresponsible’.

Someone should do a special redux of Celebrity Deathmatch just for this new spat that has entranced Silicon Valley and the wider tech world.

A war of words has erupted between inventor extraordinaire Elon Musk and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over who is right about their interpretations of artificial intelligence (AI).

‘I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited’

During a barbecue at his home on Sunday, Zuckerberg responded to a question posed by one of his faithful followers about why people are being so negative about AI.

The user had watched an interview with Elon Musk in which the SpaceX CEO said that his largest fear for the future was AI.

Musk said that AI could pose a threat to humanity, potentially more dangerous than nuclear weapons. He even described it as “the greatest risk we face as a civilisation”.

Zuckerberg, on the other hand, is a wildly optimistic AI fanboy and is even working on creating his own AI-based butler.

Responding to the user’s question about Musk’s fears, Zuckerberg said: “I think that people who are naysayers and kinda try to drum up these doomsday scenarios … I just don’t understand it. I think it’s really negative and, in some ways, I actually think it is pretty irresponsible.

“In the next five to 10 years, AI is going to deliver so many improvements to our lives. If you’re arguing against AI, then you’re arguing against safer cars that aren’t going to have accidents, and you’re arguing against being able to better diagnose people when they are sick.”

The remarks prompted debate on Twitter to which Musk tersely weighed in: “I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.”

Musk followed this up by tweeting that AI hardware and software are facing a “double exponential” rate of improvement.


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years