Elon Musk disses Mark Zuckerberg’s understanding of AI

Alexa, order popcorn.

It’s the battle of the billionaires: Elon Musk, who has warned repeatedly that AI may be our greatest existential threat, says Mark Zuckerberg’s understanding of artificial intelligence is “limited.”

Why would the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweet such a thing? Well, Zuckerberg sort of started the war of words over the weekend, when during a Facebook livestream of his backyard barbecue on Sunday he answered a question about AI that specifically cited Musk’s warnings about the technology.

“I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios — I don’t understand it,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s really negative and in some ways I actually think it is pretty irresponsible.”

The Silicon Valley Business Journal wrote about Zuckerberg’s comments, and Musk replied to a tweeted link to the article early this morning.


Zuckerberg went on to talk about what he thinks AI can do: help diagnose diseases, make self-driving cars better and more.

“People who are arguing for slowing down the process of building AI, I just find that really questionable,” the Facebook CEO added. “I have a hard time wrapping my head around that.”

Musk, who has issued dire warnings about AI for years, sounded the alarm again last week when he told the nation’s governors that “robots will be able to do everything better than us.” He called for regulation of the development of artificial intelligence.

Musk, Zuckerberg and their companies have invested in AI research. Musk has started San Francisco-based Neuralink, which aims to meld human brains with computers via electrode brain implants. Facebook is part of “the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society.” And both Musk and Zuckerberg are investors in another AI startup, Silicon Valley-based Vicarious.

So which tech mogul is right? You know Twitter has weighed in, and this screenshot captures the back-and-forth in all its glory.

Fact check: The “hyperloop” isn’t exactly done and SpaceX’s rockets have so far been unmanned, although the company does plan to take people to space. Also, Zuckerberg did create an AI-powered home butler named Jarvis.

But Twitter appears to be Musk territory.

On Facebook, the commenters on Zuckerberg’s video as he talked about AI were mostly on his side — when they weren’t asking for money or jobs from the world’s sixth-richest person, that is.

“Elon is making cars already that uses AI and it’s a huge improvement and much safer,” said one commenter.

“Watson can help with diagnosis already. If we can help doctors, we have a responsibility to do it,” said another.

As for other well-known people who have voiced their opinion on the dangers of AI, famed scientist Stephen Hawking has also warned about the rise of the robots. (He and Musk have signed on to a set of principles to try to ensure the development of AI benefits humanity.)

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO and now executive chairman of Alphabet — whose AlphaGo software has defeated the world’s best human Go players — has downplayed the downside of artificial intelligence, calling the concerns “normal” but “misguided.”


Photos: Mark Zuckerberg, left, and Elon Musk. (AFP/Getty Images)


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  • Cheap & Nothing Wasted

    Criticism from the guy who insanely thinks he’s going bore tunnels really cheap & all over the country is worthless.
    His “verbal OK” of his tunnels is a joke.

    • Alan

      Yep, that kind of thinking got us to the moon.

      • Cheap & Nothing Wasted

        We got to the moon because we used proven technology & Uncle Sam threw incredible amounts of money towards improving that technology.
        Musk is out of his mind if he thinks he can bore tunnels cheaper than anyone else on earth!

        • Alan

          Little was proven, and the moonshot was a huge risk. It paid off handsomely in the end though.

  • gippatel

    To quote Cartman from South Park, “Cripple fight!!!!”

  • Mike Smith

    I have a 6 inch ruler that I don’t need back and an willing to donate. So maybe Musk and Zuck can just measure ’em.

    Anyway, on this specific issue, I’m in the Musk camp. The dangers posed by AI are very real. Maybe we can manage them but given the leadership we’ve seen over the past couple of decades… I doubt it.

  • Whargarble

    Elon Musk is one man who’s trying to change the world and has accomplished amazing things.
    Mark Zuckerberg is a nasty little Harvard brat that got lucky by cheating his friends.
    The really interesting question is; With all the resources available to every government and rich person in the world, why have so few tried to improve it? Something is very rotten in the selection process for people that end up wealthy or in power.

  • Mood_Indigo

    Funny things is that almost everyone in this twitter fire, other than mush and Zuck, have little idea what AI actually is.

  • Comrade Patriot Trump

    Musk and Zuck should settle this like real men…dual to the death at 20 paces with Uzis. Even those dopes shouldn’t miss.

  • peatree

    Zuck trying to bulldoze his beliefs on us thinking Americans the way he tried to bulldoze the Hawaiians with his mansion. Tell the wimp to Shut The Front Door.

  • rex_montana

    Zuck did not mention Elon by name. For Elon to respond with an insult shows that he is thin-skinned.

  • Shirley LeGitte

    Musk is a real technologist, with multiple achievements under his belt, already.

    Zuckerberg basically got lucky, with one thing, Facebook…naturally, he is optimistic…things just seem to work out for Lucky Zuck…

  • Custis “Buck ” Langhorne

    much ado about nothing

  • AMG Guy

    Terminator. nuf said

  • Slan

    Too many people seem to think there’s some “magic moment” when, due to passing some processing speed “barrier” or suddenly integrating “enough” data, a computer will become self aware, i.e., conscious. This is the same nonsense as the Blue Fairy moment in Pinocchio, when he becomes a “real boy”. NONSENSE! Consciousness is a property of LIFE, not electrons in circuits.
    Get a grip.

  • BFD

    Zuckerberg is a moron. He benefited from software he didn’t write and the marketing genius of people who actually understand the dynamics of social media. Zuckerberg spouts nonsense on a level only Trump can exceed.

  • moth0

    Tesla’s self driving cars use technology from the early 1990s.