Deadly robots that can climb trees, AI friends and a work-less future were among the topics as Rishi Sunak sat down with Elon Musk.
The prime minister held a highly unusual “in conversation” event with the billionaire X and Tesla owner at the end of this week’s summit on artificial intelligence.
Throughout the wide-ranging and chummy discussion, Mr Musk held court as the prime minister asked most of the questions.
The pair talked about how London was a leading hub for the AI industry and how the technology could transform learning.
But the chat took some darker turns too, with Mr Sunak recognising the “anxiety” people have about jobs being replaced, and the pair agreeing on the need for a “referee” to keep an eye on the super-computers of the future.
Tech investor and inventor Mr Musk has put money into AI firms and has employed the technology in his driverless Tesla cars – but he’s also on the record about his fears it could threaten society and human existence itself.
“There is a safety concern, especially with humanoid robots – at least a car can’t chase you into a building or up a tree,” he told the audience.
Mr Sunak – who is keen to see investment in the UK’s growing tech industry – replied: “You’re not selling this.”
It’s not every day you see the prime minister of a country interviewing a businessman like this, but Mr Sunak seemed happy to play host to his famous guest.
And if he seemed like he was enjoying it, it should be no surprise – he previously lived in California, home to Silicon Valley, and his love of all things tech is well-documented.
In a hall that size, Mr Musk was difficult to hear and mumbled through his elaborate musings about the future, but refrained from any off-the-cuff remarks that might have caused Downing Street embarrassment.
The event was held in front of invited guests from the tech industry in a lavish hall in central London’s Lancaster House.
Unusually for an event involving the prime minister, TV cameras were not allowed inside, with Downing Street instead releasing their own footage.
Some reporters were allowed to observe – but told they could not ask questions.