Famous inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk believes that artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the biggest threats to humanity’s existence. His comments come as tech companies race to establish advanced AI systems.
When the term was first coined in 1955, AI was defined as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.” It’s been a common feature in science fiction, often playing a sinister role like the Hal 9000, or Terminator’s Skynet. Elon Musk feels that reality is closer to science fiction than we thought. He did not mince words when describing the dangers of AI at the MIT AeroAstro Centennial Symposium.
“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like yeah he’s sure he can control the demon. Didn’t work out.”
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the MIT event wasn’t the first time Elon Musk has spoken out about the threat of AI. He also shared his feelings on Twitter.
Worth reading Superintelligence by Bostrom. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 3, 2014
The audience question at the AeroAstro Symposium was if Musk would get into the AI business. Large tech businesses seem interested in making something that resembles human intelligence, although it looks like Musk’s companies won’t be among them.
According to Fox News, Google bought the British artificial intelligence company DeepMind for more than $500 million in January. The goal of the merger, or even what DeepMind does, is still unclear, but professor Larry Wasserman wrote in 2012 that the“startup is trying to build a system that thinks.” TechCrunch reports that Google set up an ethics board to allay the concerns of people like Elon Musk.
Facebook also hired a NYU professor to head up an artificial intelligence lab, and IBM’s Watson supercomputer is engaged in “deep learning,” a form of machine learning that may one day lead to true artificial intelligence. Yahoo acquired the start-up LookFlow to lead it’s own efforts in deep learning.
It seems that enough companies are involved to constitute an AI race, and that might be Elon Musk’s worst nightmare. The inventor and entrepeneur added at the MIT event that government should step in before it’s too late.
“Increasingly scientists think there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.”
According to the Washington Post, at the event Musk became so absorbed by the thought of AI that he missed the next audience question.
The full one-on-one with Elon Musk can be seen here.
[Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson/Wikimedia Commons]