Elon Musk will debate Alibaba founder Jack Ma at an artificial intelligence conference

Elon Musk will debate Alibaba founder Jack Ma at an artificial intelligence conference

  • Elon Musk is set to headline an artificial intelligence conference in China on Thursday. 
  • The Tesla CEO will debate Alibaba founder Jack Ma to kick off the multiday event in Shanghai. 
  • The two have been outspoken for years about their views on AI and the dangers it could pose to society. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Opening a new Tesla factory in China isn't the only thing on Elon Musk's radar in the country.

The chief executive is headed to an artificial intelligence conference in Shanghai that kicks off on Thursday where he's set to face-off with Alibaba founder Jack Ma in what Bloomberg reports to be a "free-wheeling debate."

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"Conference-goers can look forward to featured speakers shedding light on the status quo of the industry and the potential impacts of artificial intelligence," a press release distributed by conference organizers says.

Both leaders have been outspoken in their views on AI. Musk, who counts an AI company among his diverse portfolio of bets, has stressed the dangers of the nascent technology.


"I'm really quite close, very close to the cutting edge in AI. It scares the hell out of me," Musk said at SXSW in 2018. "It's capable of vastly more than almost anyone on Earth, and the rate of improvement is exponential."

He's also suggested government regulations to curb any unsafe repercussions.

"I think we ought to have a government committee that starts off with insight, gaining insight,' he told Kara Swisher on a Recode podcast last year. "Spends a year or two gaining insight about AI or other technologies that are maybe dangerous, but especially AI. And then, based on that insight, comes up with rules in consultation with industry that give the highest probability for a safe advent of AI.

AI is, of course, also very key to Tesla's development of its autopilot product and plans for a future "full self-driving" option, which is already available for purchase.

Ma, meanwhile, has warned for some time that automation and AI will wreak havoc on jobs around the world.


"In the last 200 years, manufacturing [has brought] jobs. But today -- because of the artificial intelligence, because of the robots -- manufacturing is no longer the main engine of creating jobs," Ma said in 2017 at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City.

There are also unconfirmed rumors reported by Electrek that Musk may be planning to show off the first Model 3 built at Tesla's Chinese factory at the event. 

Musk also said in August that he's planning to launch a Chinese version of the Boring Company on this trip as well. Experts, meanwhile, remain skeptical of his plans to revolutionize the centuries-old practice of tunneling.

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