Cannes viewpoint: Elon talks AI, bots and interplanetary travel

Campaign publisher Nadeem Quraishi listened to Musk's speech at Cannes Lions 2024.

Elon Musk’s one-on-one interview by Mark Read, the CEO of WPP, at Cannes Lions, the world’s biggest stage for advertising and creativity on Wednesday drew thousands of attendees.

He started the “Exploring the New Frontiers of Innovation” session by clarifying that he tends to put his foot into his mouth most of the time on why he said, “Go f**k yourself” to advertisers a year back who were boycotting X over hate speech on the platform.

Musk said that “There is an important distinction that we don’t want to take money to censor. Free speech is the bedrock for democracy.”

He added: “Advertisers have a right to appear next to content. That’s totally cool. What’s not cool is insisting there can be no content they disagree with on the platform.

“I believe in freedom of choice. A company like Red Bull will be more adventurous than some of the brands selling baby toys.”

Trying his best to get back the advertisers to the platform, he said: “X is committed to good advertising standards, If you want to reach the most important decision makers then the X platform is by far the best. It reaches the most influential people in the world.”

Big changes

The tech billionaire then moved to his strong views on AI, which has been one of the hot topics this year at Cannes Lions.

He said: “I think it’s going to change things very fast. I think you will see quite big changes by next year and quite big changes within the next five years.”

“There will be a lot of existential crises with AI, it will lead to major redundancy. In terms of AI safety, it’s best to train AI to be truthful and also be curious and also we should not force AI to lie or hide.” He also added that AI will be creative and original.

Moving on to his other various businesses, Musk also touched base on interplanetary space travel by saying “I’m motivated by curiosity about the nature of the universe. The goal of SpaceX is to make life multi-planetary, to expand the life of consciousness.

“In order to do that, we need to move people to Mars. This is a precarious situation on Earth. Our potential life span is much larger as a multi-planetary civilization.”

Musk laughed when he was asked if he was big on data and surveys before launching anything. He said, “I’m not particularly data driven, I normally don’t ask people on my decisions. Most people don’t understand new things. I wouldn’t have started Tesla if I had asked people.”

He also spoke about Tesla’s Optimus humanoid robot and wanted everyone to think of the bot as a friend, doing all the chores of a daily household.  Optimus, also known as Tesla Bot, is a general-purpose robotic humanoid.

It was announced at the company’s Artificial Intelligence Day event in 2021, and a prototype was shown in 2022. Musk also joked that he wanted the robot to be good looking.

“We are heading into the most important moment in history, so enjoy the ride” he said on the closure of his session.