Billionaire Elon Musk was as outspoken at a Dubai summit on Wednesday as he is on Twitter, saying he “knows more about space than anyone else” and that if there were aliens he would know.
The SpaceX, Tesla and Twitter chief touched on subjects ranging from social media, education and artificial intelligence to his hectic work schedule during his remote 30-minute appearance at the World Government Summit.
Mr Musk’s virtual attendance comes at a time when he is managing several large companies, including Twitter, which he said has so far been a “quite a rollercoaster.”
He splits his time between California and Texas to manage the social media platform, his electric car company and the development of his Mars rocket Starship.
Following are the five main topics he touched on during his talk:
Twitter has been a rollercoaster
Mr Musk has been stirring up debate since acquiring the social media platform last year.
He said the journey so far has been “quite a rollercoaster” as he tries to “stabilise Twitter”.
He said that he went ahead with the purchase because he wanted to create a trusted digital platform.
“I was a little worried about the effect of social media on the world, especially Twitter, and I thought it was very important that there should be a trusted digital public sphere, with the least amount of censorship allowed by law,” said Mr Musk.
“Twitter was I think doing a little too much to impose a niche San Francisco-Berkeley ideology on the world.”
Mr Musk — who has blocked some critics from his own account on Twitter — said: “Having some criticism is fine, I am constantly attacked on Twitter and I don’t mind. I have to be thick-skinned.”
He said that he hopes to hire a chief executive for the social media platform by end of this year.
The father of nine said that 12 years of schooling may be too much for children.
He said a couple of years could be shaved off and that years of higher education were “excessive”.
“You take a long time to ensure there's emotional, mental and physical maturity that is happening simultaneously with the education,” he said.
“So 12 years is probably not bad. We probably don't need an additional four, five or six years in college. As I see it that’s probably excessive. Probably shave a few years.”
He said school could be made more interesting for pupils, with some subjects such as maths, engineering and physics being taught in compelling ways.
Since acquiring Twitter, Mr Musk said he has taken on a lot more work and often has a 20-hour workday, which he described as “relatively unusual and rather painful”.
He also gave an insight into his life as one of the world's busiest people, while also trying to spend time with his family.
He spoke about what kind of social media restrictions he puts on his children.
“I generally do not try to restrict social media for my kids, although that might have been a mistake,” Mr Musk said.
“They've really been programmed by Reddit and YouTube, more Reddit than anything else.
“Probably, I would limit social media a bit more than I had in the past.
“And just, you know, take note of what they're watching, because I think they're being programmed by some social media algorithm, which you may or may not agree with.”
Mr Musk said that the UFOs reported in US skies over the past week were unlikely to be aliens.
“The whole question of aliens is a very interesting one, what is typically the Fermi paradox, which is that if the universe is really as old as science thinks it is, then where are the aliens?
“If we’ve really been around for 13.8 billion years, shouldn’t there be aliens all over the place?”
He said he has seen “no evidence whatsoever” of alien technology or life.
'Be careful with AI'
Elon Musk urged governments to slow down with artificial intelligence and consider how it could affect public safety.
“Artificial intelligence is something we need to be quite concerned about,” he said.
“ChatGPT has illustrated to people just how advanced AI has become. It has been advanced for a while, it just didn't have a user interface that was accessible to most people.
“And there are much more advanced versions that are coming out.
“We need to regulate AI safety, frankly. If you think of any technology which is potentially a risk to people — aircraft, cars or medicine — we have regulatory bodies that oversee public safety.
“And we should have a similar oversight for artificial intelligence — I think it is actually a bigger risk than cars, planes or medicine.
“This may need to slow down — AI — a little bit, but I think that could be a good thing.”