Peak AI hype was surely reached this past week at the UK AI Safety Summit, organised by the UK Government.
The culmination of the summit was Prime Minister Rishi Sunak interviewing Elon Musk. This was when peak AI hype truly kicked in. Especially when Musk said:
We will have for the first time something that is smarter than the smartest human… There will come a point where no job is needed. You can have a job if you want to have a job for, sort of, personal satisfaction. But the AI will be able to do everything.
Watch out for arguments about future technology that is magical. Such an argument can never be refuted. It is a faith-based argument, not a scientific argument.
This was in stark contrast to Rishi Sunak saying earlier at the summit that:
We should look at AI much more as a co-pilot than something that necessarily is going to replace someone’s job. AI is a tool that can help almost everybody do their jobs better, faster, quicker. And that’s how we are already seeing it being deployed.
If we accept the peak AI hype there is no need for us to worry about not having a job. Musk assured us:
We won’t be on universal basic income, we will be on universal high income.
So, Home Secretary Suella Braverman will not need to worry about tents appearing on the streets in this brave new jobless world!
Musk did not attempt to explain in any way how his peak AI hype predictions would come to pass. Sunak did not challenge the nonsense spouted.
As Marina Hyde, writing in the Guardian, said:
AI will eradicate jobs, explained Musk, which Sunak seemed fairly accepting of, perhaps because he is scheduled for professional eradication next year. Not that he can’t be rebooted and refitted for Silicon Valley in his post-prime-ministerial life, just as former deputy PM Nick Clegg has been.
Peak AI Hype or Childlike Sci-Fi Daydreams?
As Ian Dunt, writing for the i, put it:
For his part, Musk rattled off a series of childlike sci-fi daydreams. This is the reality of the man. When you dig past his genuine accomplishments at Tesla and Space X, his other projects are embarrassing and unscientific.
His August 2020 presentation for his company Neuralink, for instance, saw him claim that conditions like depression, anxiety and addiction could be solved with “an implantable device” in the human brain. This is so far from our understanding of these conditions or our knowledge of the limitation of grafted technology as to be laughable.
There was a lot of that last night. Musk entered into fantasies about Terminator AI robots that “can basically chase you everywhere”. He then concluded that it will be a “great friend, so long as that friend can stay your friend and not get turned off or something”. And throughout all this mumbo-jumbo nonsense, the Prime Minister sat and smiled and nodded his head.
Musk’s previous Peak AI Hype Predictions:
This is, of course, part of the course for Musk. The man who told us:-
- In 2016, that Tesla’s driver-assist feature (Autopilot) will be able to drive better than a human in two to three years. He also said that by 2018, it would be possible to remotely summon a Tesla.
- In 2019, that Tesla could have a fleet of a million robo-taxis by the end of 2020.
- In 2021, that the Tesla Bot prototype would launch the following year. The Robot would be able to handle attaching bolts to cars with a wrench, or picking up groceries at stores, as well as hundreds of other different tasks.
What actually transpired?
In reality 5 years after when we should have seen those fully driverless cars on our roads they still seem to be a pipe dream. Just the other week General Motors announced that they were putting the brakes on their driverless cars.
In any event, in the UK can you really see a nation who still prefer manual gear sticks over automatic gear changing, switching to driverless cars even if they could?
And what about those robots that were going to be doing our grocery shopping for us by now? Any advancement on me being Lexpo Bot? Again the magician, Musk, has failed to pull an actual rabbit out of his top hat. So peak AI hype then and now?
Comments by the press on Tesla Bot include:
Tesla has a history of exaggerating timelines and overpromising at its product unveilings and investor presentations.
Tesla’s history is littered with fanciful ideas that never panned out… it’s anyone’s guess as to whether a working Tesla Bot will ever see the light of day.
bizarre and brilliant bit of tomfoolery.
Experts have said about the AI hype:
Carl Berry, a lecturer of robotics engineering:
The usual overblown hype.
Scientist, Gary Marcus:
I bet that no robot will be able to do all human tasks by the end of 2023.
AI researcher Filip Piekniewski, robotics expert Cynthia Yeung and executive director of Mass Robotics Tom Ryden called the project a:
complete and utter scam.
Musk’s Peak AI Hype or Sunak’s Co-Pilot?
I think we can safely say that Musk’s latest prediction is simply a continuation of his previously hyped ones on AI. But he has certainly now reached peak AI hype with the prediction that AI will be able to do absolutely everything and no jobs will be needed.
I strangely find myself siding with Sunak and AI being a co-pilot (rather than replacing us) even if at times a very bad one!
Image Credits: Sunak and Musk – Bloomberg modified by DALL-E 3 to include a top hat and rabbit; WALL-E © Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios; Tesla Bot © Tesla.
Reactions on Peak AI Hype at UK Safety Summit
On LinkedIn the following comments have been made:-
Graeme Johnston (Software to map work – before that a lawyer):
I blame that bloke from North Queensferry – https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1007667617060941824
Ah! So it isn’t WALL-E that is his inspiration but the Culture series. Same premise though! And explains his fascination with space and a belief that we might end up there or on Mars rather than on Earth.
Yup. Walking in North Queensferry and looking up at the bridges, it also seems clear where Banks’s fascination with heavy engineering must – in part at least – have come from. And of course the Forth Bridge’s over-engineering was prompted by the Tay Bridge collapse. So ultimately I fear the Dundee engineering community must accept some of the blame for Musk as well.
Though Banks’s time as a law clerk shuffling writs in Chancery Lane may have contributed to his vision as well – ‘surely there must be a better way…’
Never realised Banks had a background in law. An interesting fact!
Alex Smith (Global Search & AI Product Lead (Senior Director) at iManage):
Musk is a prime idiot, why do we need to listen to him?
We don’t 🙂 But like the ‘pre-eminent’ legal futurists he, unfortunately, gets a lot more air time than the voices of reason. As Marina Hyde puts it “One of Tony Blair’s great weaknesses was that he was pathetically impressed by rich people – almost any rich person would do – and Sunak’s analogous vulnerability would be his starry-eyed tech fandom.” Sunak is, unfortunately, not alone. There are too many starry-eyed tech fans out there pandering to Musk and his ilk.
John McCarthy (Law Firm Profit Sherpa):
Co Pilot for AI in my opinion.
I’ve started using it to “support” my marketing content not to write it.
Sometimes I need some text condensed or simplified, or a heading/ title written, and it’s brilliant at that.
Does it better and quicker than I can but I want the copy to be mine.
Agreed. Let’s use it to assist where there is a good use case to do so. But AI replacing us any time soon is really just science fiction.
I’m with you on that. As Elon said himself, without jobs what would our “identity” be/ how would we find meaning in our lives? 🤔
Did that not come from Sunak? Musk said something about still wanting to cook but not wash dishes. The first mechanical dishwasher was registered for a patent in 1850. Europe’s first domestic dishwasher with an electric motor was invented and manufactured by Miele in 1929. No AI involved! But maybe he is thinking of his Tesla Bot loading the dishwasher 😉
Gavin Inkster (Corporate and Securities Litigation Associate at Stikeman Elliott LLP):
About as likely as a Tesla driving fully by itself.
Larry Bridgesmith J.D. (“We can control only our decisions, not the results.” Maurice Ashley):
Thanks Brian! Wish I could have been there! Any chance it was recorded?
My vote is that for our lifetimes (hopefully forever if we’re smart) AI will be the best co-pilot we have ever had.
Hoping as Musk always does for the most bright and shiny thing, ignores the impact of all his self-interested hyperbole.
The best AI will always be tethered to the human. Taking the human out of the loop of engagement and supervision leaves AI to its own non-human devices. Presuming that outcome to be human centric is “smoking dope”. We know that’s true or there would be no reason for Safety Summits.
I would rather the future (as amazing as it will be) connected to human interests and aptitudes.
That’s my vote.
It was indeed recorded. You can watch it here:
And your vote is a good vote.
Thank you for the link and the great thinking.
Thanks go to my friend and fellow legal tech and innovation collaborator from across the pond, Brian Inkster, a “One man Scottish Legal Institution”. Brian shares this amazing dialog between UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak and Global Opinion Shaper, Elon Musk.
The topic of discussion: AI Safety and Risk Management. 40 minutes of edited dialog you will want to watch, or at least listen to in your drive or podcast time.
The event: The UK Summit on AI Safety
Rather than read my summary and interpretations, please take the time to watch and/or listen.
One of the father’s of AI, recognizes in cogent and informed conversation the needs for Responsible AI and the guardrails it will require.
AI “ultimately will be a force for good, if it has human referees.”
Amen, and amen.
Antti Innanen (⚫ Ⓜ️ 🍄):
It strikes me as ironic that you appear to commit the same error—making certain predictions without offering evidence. It’s essentially a pessimistic form of
😂 I think the evidence is clear from and contained within my full blog post if you read it. Musk has been making AI predictions for at least the past 7 years (no doubt longer), none of which have come anywhere near to happening! I think based on that evidence it is fair to say we should take any of his AI predictions (including the latest very far fetched one) with a very large pinch of salt!
I see the 8th deadly sin in many of your texts.
It is kind of mirror image of your own criticism. You claim that optimistic views of AI are unfounded because they predict benefits without evidence, but you predict negative outcomes (or no outcomes) without evidence.
I think that there is also a dash of “argument from incredulity,” where you find it difficult to understand how AI could be beneficial for lawyers, and therefore you conclude it will not be.
You state that Musks argument is absurd without giving proof why – other than Musk being an ass. Well, I hate him too, but he knows some shit about AI, maybe even more than you or me (imagine that) 😅
Predictions are inherently tricky. Karl Popper noted that there are innumerable ways to be wrong and far fewer to be right, which partly explains why predictions often fail.
AI charlatants and snake-oil salesmen like me should be required to support our statements with evidence to prevent overhyping. The third sin sneaks up easily, especially when excited about something.
But this applies equally to those who are pessimistic or skeptical about technology. Beware of the eighth sin: making negative predictions about the future without evidence.
😂 10/10 for perseverance! I still think the lack of evidence of any real kind makes outlandish predictions a waste of everyone’s time.
We should be concentrating on what we can actually do today with the tools currently at our disposal.
I am far from pessimistic or sceptical about actual useful technology. I know (I don’t have to predict it) that my use at Inksters over a number of years of document automation and legal process engineering has created efficiencies far and above anything that GenAI has achieved or is likely to achieve in any law firm in the near future if applied to the same legal processes.
I predict that over the next five years (being the standard legal futurist prediction period) most law firms will chase shiny new toys to no avail rather than implement actual existing, proven and useful #LegalTech. This is based on 30 odd years of actual clear evidence of this approach by most law firms. #bringbackboring
So document automation over GenAI in creating efficiencies in legal over the next five years? Now THAT is a bold claim, I like it.
Not my prediction! Read again 🙂
Alright, let’s delve into specifics – is “shiny toy” referring to GenAI? And could you identify the “existing, proven and useful LegalTech”?
Currently, the prediction is quite ambiguous and open to multiple interpretations (this must be on the sin list, though I’ve forgotten which number).
I like the part ”I know (I don’t have to predict it)” and then you make a prediction. Kind of illustrates my point 🥰
Yes, GenAI is a current shiny new toy. Document automation is an example of an existing, proven and useful LegalTech.
Two separate things going on there: One was something I know from actually having done it (most legal futurists have never actually done anything in the LegalTech space). The other was a separate but related prediction based on my knowledge of the first thing and the legal industry as a whole.
Let’s come back in 5 years and see what has actually happened 🙂
LinkedIn bot, remind me in 5 years!
I will fly to Scotland, buy you a beer (or a soft drink of your choice) and then fly back if your prediction is correct 🔮
I look forward to your visit to Scotland for Guy Fawkes 🔥 night in 2028! There will be fireworks 🎆 to celebrate. Mine’s a beer 🍺
Clare Fraser (Change Analyst – Business Transformation):
I think a lot of jobs will be replaced but not all. The important ones will remain (like hairdressers. I have a difficult barnet).
What! You wouldn’t let a Tesla Bot cut your hair?!