Sycophantic Rishi Sunak failed to question Elon Musk on disinformation and Ukraine in surreal AI interview
Research shows a huge rise in disinformation and abuse since Elon Musk bought Twitter, yet Rishi Sunak ignored this and lapped up monologues about humanoid robots and AI friends.
“We are very privileged and very excited to have you,” Sunak eulogised, before using a Bill Gates quote about Musk that “there is no one in our time who has done more to push the bounds of science and innovation than you”.
What followed was the surreal spectacle of the actual Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland asking a series of incredibly friendly questions to Musk about AI and tech, looking on fondly as he mumbled back his answers.
The conversation took some bizarre tangents, with Musk warning of humanoid robots that “can chase you anywhere” and going off on a long monologue about how AI will be a great friend for people. He said that “there will come a point where no job is needed” and the only reason people will work will be for their own satisfaction - perhaps not the line the Prime Minister was hoping for.
Every now and then Sunak would make a slightly sycophantic comment like “you work a lot of hours” - perhaps forgetting how Musk turned Twitter HQ into a hotel for staff with beds so they never have to leave. No journalists were allowed to ask questions during the Q&A, and many left the event scratching their heads with experienced Sky News deputy political editor Sam Coates saying it was “one of the maddest events” he’s ever covered.
The problem with Sunak asking the questions and not reporters is there was no interrogation over some huge issues surrounding Musk. The Prime Minister briefly mentioned the community notes function on X, which Musk has farmed out to users instead of having expert moderators, but failed to ask about the huge rise in disinformation and abuse since he took over the website.
The Center for Countering Digital Hate found that X failed to act on 99% of hate posted by Twitter Blue subscribers, with the research “suggesting that the platform is allowing them to break its rules with impunity and is even algorithmically boosting their toxic tweets”.
Supposed free-speech warrior Musk has now sued CCDH over its research and called the chief executive a “rat”. Charming. Sunak also ignored the huge power Musk now wields with his Starlink satellite internet service and his dangerous interventions in the Russia-Ukraine war.
Biographer Walter Isaacson revealed earlier this year that Musk had instructed his engineers to switch off the network during a surprise attack by Ukraine on Russia in Crimea. He may soon be providing internet to Gaza and having an even greater involvement in geopolitical affairs.
Musk also announced his own plan for “peace” - which involved allowing Russia to keep Crimea and hold referendums in the annexed areas over their future. He held a poll, which he lost, and then claimed he was a victim of bots. Ukrainian ambassador Andrii Melnyk said: “F*** off is my very diplomatic reply to you.” I wonder what he would have made of simpering Sunak’s questions.
Musk wants to be a global political figure, and this “interview” with the Prime Minister of one of the richest countries in the world legitimises that. Yet Sunak didn’t ask any of the questions that come with that responsibility.
Today - the day after the night before - Musk announced that X was releasing its first AI, saying that “in some important respects, it is the best that currently exists”. Sunak appears to have ended up facilitating a PR stunt to promote Musk’s newest toy.