Chief of Meta AI Calls Elon Musk ‘Dangerous for Democracy’ As Feud Continues

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jun 03, 2024

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, CEOs of big American companies and famous tech moguls, have long been feuding over a variety of topics for years.

Now, Meta’s Chief of AI has called out Musk in a recent escalation of his own feud with the Tesla CEO on the social media platform X.

LeCun’s X Post

On X, award-winning scientist and Meta’s chief of AI Yann LeCun shared a lengthy post on Sunday expressing his thoughts, which started with “My opinion on Elon Musk.”

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A focus on a phone open to X, or Twitter, on a brown surface.

Source: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

His post managed to gain over 2 million views at the time of writing and around 16,000 likes. The message was also shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Threads.

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Some Agreement

LeCun started off the long post with the areas where he agreed with or supported Musk, which was a small section.

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The logo for Tesla seen in a close-up shot on a Black vehicle.

Source: Austin Ramsey/Unsplash

“I like his cars (I own a 2015 S, and 2023 S), his rockets, his solar energy systems, and his satellite communication system. I also like his positions on open source and patents. But I very much disagree with him on a number of issues,” LeCun wrote.

Treatment of Scientists

In the post, LeCun expressed his first disagreement with how Musk treats his scientists, accusing him of holding back forward-looking research.

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A woman wearing a white coat, a mask, and googles works with scientific equipment at a desk

Source: Hush Naidoo Jade Photography/Unsplash

“I disagree with how he treats his scientists. Technology/product development may not need openness and publications to advance, but forward-looking *research* sure does, whether it’s in AI, neural interfaces, material science, or whatever. Secrecy hampers progress and discourages talents from joining the effort,” said LeCun’s X post.

Most Important Criticism

One of LeCun’s criticisms that he deemed important and was seized on by some was his critique of Musk’s public positions which he thinks threaten human civilization.

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The logo for the social media platform X.

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“More importantly, I think his public positions on many political issues, journalism, the media and the press, and academia, are not just wrong but dangerous for democracy, civilization, and human wellfare,” wrote LeCun.

Crazy Conspiracies

LeCun went harder down this line of critique, accusing Musk of pushing the worst conspiracies that were not fit for a tech visionary.

A tin foil hat sitting in a white chair.

Source: Tom Radetzki/Unsplash

“Finally he doesn’t seem to hesitate to disseminate batsh*t-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,” LeCun wrote.

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Corrupting Democracy

Musk is also accused in the post of spreading disinformation so dangerous that LeCun feels it is having a corrupting effect on the Democratic process.

The U.S. Capitol building seen underneath a cloudy sky.

Source: Harold Mendoza/Unsplash

“Then, there is dangerous disinformation that puts public health in danger or corrupts the democratic process. You have to moderate that too. Content moderation is a complicated problem whose best answer is not an attitude of total laissez-faire but a complex trade-off,” said LeCun critiquing the way Musk is running content moderation on the social media platform X.

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Post Reception

While the post received many views and likes as well as positive comments, there were some critical of LeCun for this post. LeCun responded to some of these comments personally.

The logo for meta against a dark background.

Source: dima Solomin/Unsplash

“Yann, you associate with meta, whose platforms inflame and misinform as a business model to push engagement, and your AI efforts have done nothing but flooded these platforms with spam at unprecedented scales. I agree with you about Elon, but you might not be the right messenger for this message.  You are arguably a significantly larger part of the problem. In my opinion Meta is 1000x+ a larger harm to society than Elon on X,” wrote one user that LeCun responded to in disagreement.

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LeCun and Meta

This post from LeCun comes with the context that he has worked for Mark Zuckerberg and Meta for over 10 years, and Musk and Zuckerberg have been publicly and privately feuding for years.

Mark Zuckerberg speaks in 2018 in front of a blue background.

Source: Anthony Quintano/Wikimedia

Last year, Musk and Zuckerberg puffed out their chests at each other, saying they would fight each other in a cage match.

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Musk’s Response

In response to the post by LeCun, Musk shared a meme that implies that LeCun is desperate for his attention. The meme shows fake text messages on someone’s home phone screen, with LeCun being portrayed as projecting bitterness and anger.

Elon Musk sitting down with his hands clasped in front of a microphone.

Source: Daniel Oberhaus/Wikimedia Commons

“I just wish Yan Lecan’t would stop sending me this sh$t 😢,” Musk wrote above the meme.

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Supporting Musk

Emad Mostaque, Stability AI’s founder and former CEO, shared a post supporting Musk in the wake of LeCun’s criticisms.

Elon Musk sits in a chair against a dark background with one leg crossed.

Source: Trevor Cokley/Wikimedia

His post is a parody of LeCun’s style, also quite long, but includes several jokes and calls Musk “probably the most holistically intelligent, high agency person I know despite the insane pressure & stress he is always under.”

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Feud Continues

This post by LeCun comes after he and Musk had been exchanging verbal jabs at each other the past week on X.

Elon Musk seen with a microphone.

Source: Tesla Owners Club Belgium/Wikimedia Commons

In one exchange LeCun asserts he’s “a scientist, not a business person” to which Musk hits back with “What ‘science’ have you done in the past 5 years?”

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