Meta’s AI chief slams Elon Musk over hype, conspiracy theories

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Meta’s vice president and chief AI scientist, Yann LeCun, and Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, have engaged in what might be 2024’s most well-credentialed nerd fight on social media. 

While LeCun and Musk have been arguing on X.com since it was called Twitter, this recent dustup kicked things back into high gear with both men slinging vitriol at one another.

Evidently, things started when LeCun hijacked an X post from Musk advertising open positions at xAI — Musk’s artificial intelligence company. 

From there, things escalated day over day until Sunday, June 2 when LeCun chose the metaphorical nuclear option. The Meta AI boss posted a 379-word diatribe lashing out at Musk’s treatment of scientists and calling the billionaire mogul a danger to society.

For perspective, an average news article typically ranges from around 350-450 words.

But before we get into LeCun’s tirade — which goes so far as to accuse Musk of peddling “batshit-crazy conspiracy theories” and trying to destroy democracy — we’ll need to understand why one of the world’s most renowned computer scientists and one of the most famous business moguls of all time are fighting in the first place.

Musk’s public beef with Meta goes back to the days when he was just an ordinary blue-checked user on Twitter (and Meta was called Facebook). Back in 2020, for example, he famously responded to criticism from a Facebook AI scientist by tweeting that “Facebook sucks.”

Fast forward to the week of May 27, 2024, and we find Turing Award winner LeCun throwing shade in response to a recruitment post for Musk’s xAI artificial intelligence company:

Source: Yann LeCun.

In follow up exchanges between LeCun, Musk, and myriad onlookers-turned-commentators, Musk questioned LeCun’s scientific acumen — responding to a LeCun post with “what science have you done in the past five years?” — and intimated that LeCun lacked the acumen to run a company “Yann is just following orders” in another post.

Musk’s followers might note that this particular exchange could be considered a tame one from the billionaire’s end. But LeCun, evidently raring to set the record straight from his point of view, may have just escalated the feud to its highest margin.

Due to its length, we were only able to capture a portion of the post in this image. Source: Yann LeCun.

After the opening lines shown above, wherein LeCun mentions that he owns two Teslas and enjoys the company’s products, things quickly turn sour. He bashed Musk for how he treats scientists and “hype” concerning promises he’s made recently that AGI would be achieved by 2025.

Then, he accused Musk of undermining democracy:

“Say what you want about “traditional media” but you can’t really have reliable information without professional journalists working for a free and diverse press. Democracy can’t exist without it, which is why only authoritarian ennemies (sic) of democracy rail against the media.”

And, perhaps the most incendiary remarks from LeCun described Musk as a conspiracy theorist who peddles lies and misinformation:

“Finally he doesn’t seem to hesitate to disseminate batshit-crazy conspiracy theories as long as they serve his interests (e.g. boosting “PizzaGate”, “illegal immigrants corrupt elections in the US”, “person X is a pedo”,…). One would expect a technological visionary to be a rationalist. Rationalism doesn’t work without Truth.”

As of the time of this article’s publication, Musk has yet to respond to LeCun’s recent comments.

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