Jack Ma, Elon Musk debate AI at China summit

Elon Musk (R), Co-founder and CEO of Tesla, and Jack Ma, co-chair of the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, speak onstage during the the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai on August 29, 2019.

Jack Ma, an icon of China's Internet era, painted a rosy picture of the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) on Thursday, saying smarter machines will allow humans to better enjoy life.

Interestingly, both Ma and his company Alibaba, have promoted such a schedule - referred to as 996 since employees work from 9 am to 9 pm six days per week - and have recently drawn backlash from workers for failing to compensate the intense workload with overtime pay.

China will exempt Tesla Inc's electric vehicles from purchase tax, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on its website, sending the company's shares up more than 4% in early trading.

Musk disagreed with Ma, noting that computers are getting smarter than humans in more and more spheres and that the trend will continue. Computers are already smarter than people. Not really. We just seem like unusual aliens. "People like us that are street smart, we're not scared of that". "The phone is an extension of yourself".

Musk: "The way education works right now, it's really low bandwidth, it's extremely slow, lectures are the worst.Down the road with Neuralink you can just upload any subject instantly, it will be like the Matrix".

Ma, who doesn't come from an engineering or science background, didn't buy Musk's ominous warning at all.

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"Computers may be clever, but human beings are much smarter", Ma repeated. "They're machines that are invented by humans".

With this concept in mind, Musk believes colonizing a planet or becoming a multi-planet species would bring humans one step closer to finally answering the Fermi paradox. To be totally Frank I've seen some insane things so you know I think it's like I really think China is the future. "We need heroes like you [who want to go to Mars], but we need heroes like us [who will fix Earth]".

"We need a hero like you, but we need more heroes like us improving things on earth", Ma said.

Meanwhile, AI will be needed for many jobs undesired by human workers, according to Ma.

Countering Musk on the superiority of technology on playing chess or Go, Ma said that these games were created to pit one individual against another, not an individual against a machine.

"We are also thinking of having more hard ones on ice tracks in winter this year", Liu said, adding that more owners will be invited in the future. "I don't think it's a threat".

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