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Meta AI Chief LeCun Slams Elon Musk's False Claims

Meta’s chief AI scientist Yann LeCun has been embroiled in a heated exchange with Elon Musk over the past week
June 5, 2024

Meta’s chief artificial intelligence scientist Yann LeCun has spent the past week openly criticizing Elon Musk on various fronts, from his management style to his penchant for spreading false conspiracies on social media. The public spat began when Musk, Tesla’s CEO, posted a call for engineers to join his AI startup, xAI, which recently raised $6 billion. LeCun, known for his candid opinions, didn't hold back.

"I like his cars, rockets, solar energy systems, and satellite communication systems," LeCun wrote on X, Musk’s social media platform. "But I very much disagree with him on a number of issues."

The dispute intensified on May 27, when LeCun responded to Musk’s recruitment post with a scathing critique: "Join xAI if you can stand a boss who makes promises that can’t be met, claims AI will ‘kill everyone,’ and spews wild conspiracy theories on his own social platform."

LeCun's remarks came at a time when the AI race is heating up, with xAI competing against giants like OpenAI, Anthropic, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Meta. While xAI and others maintain proprietary control over their large language models (LLMs), Meta is promoting its Llama family of models as open-source, allowing other researchers to use and adapt them freely.

The feud took another turn when Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. Musk, who has called for Fauci’s prosecution, posted, "Why do Dems love Fauci so much" and subsequently unfollowed LeCun on X. LeCun responded, attributing the unfollow to his defense of Fauci and labeling Musk's calls for prosecution as “anti-science.”

Despite the ongoing public disputes, few tech leaders openly criticize Musk. However, LeCun is not alone; Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has shorted Tesla stock, investor Mark Cuban has criticized Musk’s stance on corporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and Meta co-founder Dustin Moskovitz has accused Tesla of consumer fraud.

LeCun's critiques extend beyond Musk’s social media behavior to his approach to technology development. LeCun condemned Musk’s “blatantly false” predictions, including claims about the imminent arrival of artificial general intelligence and the promise of 1 million Tesla robotaxis by 2020—a milestone Tesla has yet to achieve.

Musk’s ambitious goals aren’t limited to Tesla. He has also made grand promises for Neuralink, his brain implant startup, claiming its devices could enable “superhuman cognition” and “solve” conditions like autism and schizophrenia. However, Neuralink has only implanted its system in one human patient and has yet to receive FDA approval.

LeCun also highlighted how Musk takes credit for the work of others. Musk’s only technical publication on Google Scholar, a 2019 Neuralink paper, lists him as the lead author, while the collective term “Neuralink” follows. "I’m sure the scientists who hide behind this collective name are super happy about that," LeCun remarked. "I just hope they won’t die bitter and forgotten."

As the AI landscape evolves, LeCun’s outspoken critiques underscore the complexities and controversies surrounding tech leadership, innovation, and the ethical responsibilities of industry giants.

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