The World Government Summit in Dubai launched on February 12, 2017, hosted 150 speakers across 114 sessions with more than 4,000 regional and global personalities – among those speakers were visionary billionaire Elon Musk.
In a 35-minute interview that addressed everything from personal and professional bits of advice to insightful predictions, Musk shared his perspective on the future of artificial intelligence, sustainable energy, spacecraft and being among the stars.
When the interviewer asked Musk about his mission in life, he said that it all started when he was a kid wondering about the meaning of life and came to the conclusion that trying to understand the right questions to ask, or in other words, increase the scope of human consciousness, will allow people to answer these kinds of existential questions better. ‘’There are certain things that insulate the future is good; long-term sustainable transport and sustainable energy generation and becoming a multi-planetary species – which in end, serves the survival of humanity,’’ he said.
Musk wants to change life as we know it: ‘’the part which I find personally motivating [about being a multi-planetary species] is creating a sense of adventure and making people excited about the future. If you considered two futures: where in one we are forever confined to earth until eventually, something terrible happens or another future where we are out there on many planets, maybe even going beyond the solar system.
‘‘I think the second version is incredibly exciting and inspiring. There needs to be a reason to get up in the morning. Life can’t be just about solving problems,’’ he added.
On his predictions on how life will be in 20 to 50 years from now, he claims that any predictions will most likely be wrong. Today, with a $100 dollar device, people can video conference with anyone in the world, and with social media, they can do it with millions on the other end, and that was very difficult to predict in the relatively recent past.
He even stunned the audience with this one: ‘’I think it will be possible to travel to Mars and beyond within 50 years from now.’’
Also, Musk thinks we will see a lot of artificial intelligence and autonomy. That’s as near as 10 years from now, it is just a question of developing the capable software, it will be very unusual to have cars that are not fully autonomous.
‘’Getting in a car will be like getting on an elevator, you just tell it where you want to go, and it takes you there with extreme levels of safety, all you have to do is press the button,’’ he added.
But it’s all fun and games with AI until it’s more advanced than narrow AI. Deep or Artificial General Intelligence will be much smarter than the smartest human on earth – Musk considers that a very dangerous situation.
It’s both an aid and a threat – digital superintelligence will be like an alien.
Further discussing aliens, Musk said that if there are aliens, they are probably already observing us, and we are not smart enough to realize it. Maybe they are among us, who knows?
He even added humorously: ‘’Some people think I’m an alien, [which is] not true.’’
When asked about his desire to die on Mars, he said that it’s not like a ‘’Mars death wish,’’ but if he can pick some place to die, then why not Mars? Since being born on Earth. It seems quite exciting.
Musk believes that fully self-driving cars will be one of the next big shots in technology, and it’s going to happen much faster than people think. One downside that he has stressed on is that driving is a common job, thus, we need to figure out other roles for vehicle drivers – ”With 2.5 billion cars and trucks around the world,” he continued, ”this can be very disruptive to the employment sector.”
Finally, Musk gave advice to governments in the technological aspect: Firstly, pay attention to AI and how to adopt it – the ramifications are important so don’t neglect them. Second of all, transportation in general and the shifting to electric vehicles. Thirdly, the demand for electricity will increase heavily over time – so governments need to plan on how to increase it, and lastly, methods to overcome mass unemployment, and more specifically in the near future, where there will be few jobs that a robot couldn’t do better, Musk thinks universal basic income will become necessary.