The Labour party has accused Rishi Sunak of using his conversation with Elon Musk as a strategy to secure a future job after his time in Downing Street. This comes after criticism that the prime minister allowed the billionaire to steal the spotlight from his AI safety summit.
Sunak quickly left Bletchley Park and headed to central London following the summit to conduct an interview with Musk onstage. Critics argued that this event made the prime minister appear powerless against corporate influence.
At the event, Musk made a forecast that artificial intelligence would ultimately replace all jobs, posing a danger of “humanoid robots” to individuals. He also highlighted the positive aspect of having AI friends due to advancements in technology. His statements have gained significant attention, overshadowing a pact signed by major AI companies to potentially slow down the competition in creating systems that can rival human capabilities.
On Friday, Peter Kyle, who holds the position of shadow technology secretary, stated that the AI summit provided a chance for the UK to take the lead in the international discussion on regulating this influential new technology in a positive manner. However, the prime minister has been lagging behind as the US and EU have taken action to implement concrete measures to safeguard the use of this technology.
“Regrettably, Rishi Sunak once again allowed himself to become sidetracked from the pressing matters at hand, possibly keeping an eye on his future professional path.”
During the gathering at Lancaster House, which was later streamed on Musk’s social networking site X, Sunak questioned the wealthiest individual in the world about various topics concerning AI and technology in general.
The prime minister praised Musk, referring to him as a “talented innovator and scientist”, but did not mention any controversies, including Musk’s choice to refuse Ukraine’s use of his Starlink satellites during their conflict with Russia.
After the discussion, Sunak expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to host the wealthiest individual in the world. He patted him on the back as they both exited the stage.
According to AI specialist Andrew Rogoyski from the University of Surrey, it was strange to compare the AI summit’s success in reaching a global agreement with the opinions of just one billionaire in the tech industry. This is especially noteworthy as the discussion centered around the well-known topic of “killer robots” and potential job displacement caused by AI.
He stated that there is a need to create a fresh perspective on possibilities and dangers, responsibility and openness, trust from the public, and equal opportunities.
At a conference on Friday morning, Matt Clifford, the investor in technology chosen by Sunak to plan the summit, stated: “I want to make it explicitly clear that last night was not an official event of the summit.”
He made a humorous remark, saying that he had been insisting for the past 10 weeks that it was not related to killer robots, but then he suddenly says, “it is actually about killer robots.”
Government representatives expressed satisfaction that Musk had accepted the invitation to participate in the summit and the subsequent event in central London. They also appreciated his support for Sunak’s endeavors to implement stricter safety regulations for the industry. However, there were some who acknowledged frustration over the excessive focus on Musk’s remarks following the events.
A specialist in the field of artificial intelligence commented that the behavior of Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was unusual and gave the impression that he was trying out for a talk show host. If I were part of the team at 10 Downing Street, I would question the reasoning behind this decision.