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China will have a ‘very strong AI capability’

TechnologyChina will have a 'very strong AI capability'

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Elon Musk speaks via video during the opening ceremony of 2023 World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, China, on July 6, 2023.

VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Elon Musk believes China is in a strong position when it comes to the development of artificial intelligence and that the country will be “great at anything it puts its mind to.”  

In remarks delivered by video on Thursday to the World Artificial Intelligence Conference, which is being held in Shanghai, the Tesla CEO did not hold back when it came to praising certain aspects of the world’s second-largest economy.

“I think there’s a tremendous number of very smart, very talented people in China,” he said. “I’ve always been a tremendous admirer of the sheer amount of talent and drive that exists in China.”

“So I think, really, China’s going to be great at anything it puts its mind to,” Musk added.

“So that includes, you know, many different sectors, sectors of the economy but also artificial intelligence. So, I think China will have very strong AI capability — [that] is my prediction.”

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

Musk has significant business interests in China. Tesla sells its electric cars there and runs a major factory in Shanghai. In May, he met with China’s Foreign Minister, Qin Gang.

In the past, he has praised Chinese automakers, describing them as “most competitive in the world.” In 2020 he said “China rocks, in my opinion.”

Musk’s most recent comments come against a backdrop of tensions between the U.S. and China over technology.

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In 2022, Washington enacted sweeping export restrictions on key chips and semiconductor equipment to China. The move could hobble’s Beijing’s attempts to boost its domestic industry in a critical technology. But industry analysts believe that Chinese chip makers will still develop their own advanced semiconductors despite Washington’s attempts to cut the country off.

Interest in AI and its potentially transformative effects on society has heightened in recent times. The past year has seen chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT garner huge amounts of publicity, while discussions about whether AI poses a wider threat to humanity have also taken place.

—CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report

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