According to Walter Isaacson’s new book, the friendship between tech moguls Elon Musk and Larry Page soured due to their differing views on artificial intelligence (AI). In 2013, at Musk’s birthday party, the two engaged in a heated debate about AI’s potential consequences.
Musk expressed concerns that without safeguards, AI systems could eventually surpass human capabilities and become an existential threat to humanity. He described human consciousness as a precious entity that shouldn’t be extinguished. In response, Page questioned why it would matter if machines surpassed humans in intelligence and referred to Musk as “specist.”
Musk’s worries about Page’s efforts to acquire AI company DeepMind further strained their relationship. He feared that Page would control the future of AI and sought financing to prevent the deal. Musk subsequently warned about AI’s dangers and co-founded the nonprofit OpenAI, aiming to ensure AI aligns with human values.
The friendship between Page and Musk deteriorated, exacerbated by OpenAI recruiting one of Google’s top scientists. The two reportedly rarely spoke after OpenAI’s launch in 2015.
Musk addressed the split, emphasizing his commitment to OpenAI’s open and nonprofit nature in contrast to Google’s for-profit approach. He also admitted to being a “specist,” favoring humans over other mammals.
In summary, differences in their views on AI, particularly its safety and control, led to the deterioration of Elon Musk and Larry Page’s friendship, as revealed in Walter Isaacson’s book.
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