Former Twitter CEO talks Musk takeover, censorship and AI threat

In an interview with Breaking Points, Jack Dorsey discusses Elon Musk, Twitter controversies, free speech, and the potential of artificial intelligence.

Twitter’s former CEO Jack Dorsey has given an interview to Breaking Points in his first media appearance since stepping down from the social media giant in 2021.

After touching on Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover and surrounding controversies, Dorsey also addressed censorship battles with governments, his view of Twitter’s role in the free-speech debate, as well as the future of artificial intelligence technology.

Dorsey said he was happy when Musk made moves to become more involved with Twitter.

“At the very start, I was hoping for years that [Musk] would, and I asked him many times to join our board at least. But when he decided to make a bid for the company, or join the board and then make a bid for the company … it felt great,” said Dorsey.

“Elon is our number one user … He understood the platform deeply.”

While Musk “had the option to back out” following his court brawl with the company, Dorsey said this “set up a dynamic where [Musk] had to be very hasty” and make quick decisions that “weren’t fully thought out”.

“It all looked fairly reckless, but I do have confidence that he’ll figure it out,” said Dorsey.

INTERACTIVE Timeline of Elon Musk's Twitter acquisition updated

Free-speech debate

Musk adopted a policy allowing anything to exist on the platform as long as it is permissible by law. This, according to Dorsey, gave countries such as India and Turkey a reason to request information and censorship from Twitter.

Dorsey added that India, Nigeria, and Turkey had threatened to shut Twitter down unless it complied with orders to restrict accounts, an accusation the Indian government dismissed as an “outright lie”.

Touching on the Twitter Files – a trove of documents released late last year that detailed pressure from corporations and governments to censor content – Dorsey said some of what came out was “questionable”, but added much of the information, “I never saw”.

“I was surprised by the level of engagement with government agencies,” he said, but concluded his employees “generally did the right thing”, especially during the controversy surrounding Hunter Biden’s laptop.

AI: Regulation or reward? 

Since the birth of Open Source AI in recent years, some analysts have sounded the alarm about its potential dangers and the grim effects it could have on societies around the world. Dorsey said pausing AI is unrealistic, at least not on an international scale.

“I think that is absolutely critical that we all have access to these technologies and people can build on top of it and we can actually see how they work,” he said.

However, regulation is needed as AI becomes “trendy”, he said, noting the existence of open-source ecosystems have always posed threats.

“There is a balancing effect of people doing the right thing and looking at ways to protect the overall technology and, ultimately, protect humanity,” said Dorsey.

He expressed scepticism about the benefit of technologies such as Metaverse and other virtual reality platforms, but conceded, “The whole world is headed this way.”

“I hope we have an honest conversation about some of the harms around more and more social distancing [technology],” Dorsey said.

Source: Al Jazeera