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Elon Musk tells Rishi Sunak AI will reach 'a point where no job is needed'

The in-conversation event played on Musk's social network X | Alamy

Elon Musk tells Rishi Sunak AI will reach 'a point where no job is needed'

At an in-conversation event hosted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, tech magnate Elon Musk has said artificial intelligence (AI) will lead to “a point where no job is needed”.

Attended by more than 300 business leaders, Musk took part in a 50-minute discussion with Sunak on the potential and threat of AI.

“You can have a job if you want to for personal satisfaction, but the AI will be able to do everything,” he said.

“I don't know if that makes people comfortable or uncomfortable,” Musk added.

However, Sunak disagreed with the owner of  X, saying “work gives you meaning”, and adding to his call for Britons to see the technology as a partner rather than a replacement.

“I know this is an anxiety that people have. We should look at AI much more as a co-pilot than something that necessarily is going to replace someone’s job,“ the prime minister explained.

“AI is a tool that can help almost everybody do their jobs better, faster, quicker, and that’s how we’re already seeing it being deployed.

“I’m of the view that technology like AI which enhances productivity over time is beneficial for an economy. It makes things cheaper, it makes the economy more productive.”

However, Sunak also said he wished UK citizens would give up “the security of a regular pay-cheque” and “be comfortable with failing”to allow more people to become entrepreneurs. 

He also hailed the UK low-tax system as a hub for AI start-ups.

The Labour Party said Sunak is “out of touch”.

Shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth said: “The public are enduring the worst cost of living crisis in memory and he is spending his time telling Elon Musk that he wishes they would give up their jobs and be ready to fail.

"He hasn’t got a clue.”

The exchange of thoughts also came amid an employment crisis, with government adviser Franck Petitgas calling for a strategy to get more people back to work earlier this year.  

SpaceX founder Musk, however, also said AI would bring in an “age of abundance”, where we “won’t be on universal basic income; we will be on universal high income”.

Both Musk and Sunak agreed on the need for a “switch off” framework if humanoid robots turn against us, as Musk addressed concerns about these being able to “follow you anywhere”.

The tech billionaire also backed Sunak’s decision to invite China to the AI Safety Summit, saying it would have been “pointless” if the Asian country was not there. 

The entrepreneur's assertion follows earlier criticism from the Conservative Party on the decision, with former prime minister Liz Truss saying she was “deeply disturbed” by the choice to add China to the list of delegates.

“If the United States and the UK and China are aligned on safety, then that's going to be a good thing because that's where the leadership is generally,” Musk said.

The event took place at London's Lancaster House, which in 2017 hosted Theresa May’s Plan for Britain – an outline of the priorities for the Brexit negotiations. No cameras were allowed inside the venue.

Sunak said he felt “privileged” to host the event. The prime minister’s love for technology is well-known as he described himself as a “tech geek” during his opening speech at last year’s London Tech Week.

The meeting came at the back of the two-day AI Safety Summit, which saw 28 countries sign the first-ever international declaration on AI.

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