‘Shark Tank’ Star Mark Cuban On AI: It’s Scary

Mark Cuban may be many things: Shark Tank star, billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and entrepreneur who will always have made his first big score by investing in technology. But expert on artificial intelligence? Maybe not.

Nonetheless, when asked about AI at OzyFest last week, Cuban was clear: it’s scary. He’s done reading on the topic, including The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos, and listens to the weekly podcast “This Week in Machine Learning and AI,” according to a CNBC report. Bottom line: machines will soon do the thinking that people are paid to do.

“I guarantee you, your employer is trying to figure out ways to use technology and use neural networks to do a lot of the thinking that employees currently are doing.”

Recently Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg weighed in on AI. Zuckerberg says the technology will improve the lives of people, according to Entrepreneur, while Musk is far more reluctant to say AI advances are benign. CNBC quoted Musk as saying earlier this month that the technology needs greater oversight and regulation.

“I have exposure to the most cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned by it.”

Elon Musk of Tesla
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says humanity has to be more vigilant against the threat of AI. (Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Musk, Zuckerberg, and Cuban are all connected to technology. They are also rich. As Riva-Melissa Tez wrote on Medium, AI companies are the hottest investment sector in technology. The hype that surrounds startup AI companies fails to acknowledge that the core elements of AI have been around since the mid-1990s. What’s available now, more than ever before, is data.

MIT Technology Review predicted back in January that 2017 would see a backlash to the hype that surrounds AI, causing the monetary value of these companies to plummet.

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is optimistic about the future of AI, saying it will make lives better for people. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

But on-the-ground researchers say there are real advances that justify the buzz around AI. MIT Technology Review reported in December that a few years of development around deep learning systems has led to new technology for voice and image recognition.

There have been attempts to expand broad knowledge of AI developments and make some of the research available to the general public. Back in May, Tech Crunch reported on Google.ai, a site where anyone can use Google’s Brain Team research. It includes TensorFlow, Google’s open-source software library for what the search engine giant calls “machine learning.”

Are we heading into the realm of science fiction where the machines will take over humanity? Musk and Cuban seem ready to say it’s not a drill — the era of AI is here and humanity needs to be prepared. Inc. quoted Cuban at Ozy Fest issuing a dire warning.

“What’s happening now, because things are getting faster, machines are starting to think. Either you make them think for you, or they take your place and do your thinking for you.”

[Featured image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]