Yann LeCun, Meta’s vice president and chief artificial intelligence scientist, and Elon Musk are engaged.

Meta Vice President and Chief Artificial Intelligence Scientist Yann LeCun and Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, have engaged in what could be the social media battle of the nerds of 2024.

While LeCun and Musk have been feuding over since it was called Twitter, this latest spat has brought things to a new high, with both men leveling harsh criticism at each other.

Things apparently started when LeCun grabbed an X message from Musk announcing job openings at xAI – Musk’s artificial intelligence company.

From there, things escalated day by day until Sunday, June 2, when he chose the metaphorical nuclear option. The Meta AI boss posted a 379-word rant criticizing Musk’s treatment of scientists and calling the billionaire tycoon a danger to society.

For perspective, the average news article is typically between 350 and 450 words.

But before we get into LeCun’s tirade — which goes so far as to accuse Musk of promoting “crazy conspiracy theories” and trying to destroy democracy — we’ll need to understand why one of the world’s most famous computer scientists and one of the most famous businessmen of all time fight… Mainly.

The public feud between Musk and Meta dates back to when he was just a regular Twitter user (and Meta was called Facebook). In 2020, for example, he 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 recruiting post for Musk’s artificial intelligence company xAI:

Source: Yann LeCun.

In subsequent exchanges between LeCun, Musk, and countless spectators-turned-commenters, Musk questioned LeCun’s scientific acumen – responding to LeCun’s post by asking “What science have you done in the last five years?” ” – and implied that LeCun lacked the acumen to run a business: “Yann just follows orders” in another article.

Musk followers may notice that this particular exchange could be considered a tame exchange on the billionaire’s side. But LeCun is clearly keen to set the record straight and, from his perspective, he may have just escalated the controversy to its highest level.

Due to its length, we were only able to capture part of the prism in this photo. Source: Yann LeCun.

After the first few lines above, in which LeCun mentions that he owns two Teslas and likes the company’s products, things quickly turn sour. He criticized Musk for the way he treats scientists and for the “hype” generated by promises he recently made that artificial general intelligence would be achieved by 2025.

He then accused Musk of undermining democracy:

“Say what you want about ‘mainstream media,’ but you can’t get reliable information without professional journalists working for a free and diverse press. Democracy cannot exist without it, which is why only authoritarian enemies of democracy attack the media.

Perhaps the most interesting statement from LeCun is that he describes Musk as a conspiracy theorist who promotes lies and misinformation:

“Finally, he doesn’t seem to hesitate to spread crazy conspiracy theories, as long as they serve his interests (e.g. promoting ‘PizzaGate,’ ‘Illegal immigrants are corrupting US elections,’ ‘Nobody’ ). You might expect a technological visionary to be rational. Rationality does not work without truth.

As of press time, Musk has yet to respond to LeCun’s recent comments.

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