Elon Musk At SXSW: Mars Promises ‘Excitement For Those Who Survive,’ But AI Is A ‘Species Level Risk’

While Elon Musk is generally positive about the future of humanity, he has repeatedly voiced concerned about the development of unregulated digital superintelligence. Musk’s speech at SXSW was even more cautionary than usual. In contrast, Elon spoke very pleasantly about the dangers of a mission to Mars, emphasizing the unique opportunities to be enjoyed when pioneering space, according to his statements on CNBC.

“It kind of reads like Shackleton’s ad for arctic explorers: difficult, dangerous, good chance you’ll die, excitement for those who survive. There is going to be an explosion of entrepreneurial activity because Mars will need everything from iron foundries to pizza joints.”

In Elon Musk’s recent SXSW talk, he assured the crowd that the Mars mission was no playground for the rich, but rather a pioneering expedition not for the faint of heart. However, Elon went on to reveal that the new society on Mars would be governed by direct democracy, have a lot of free enterprises, and robust capitalism. Elon Musk is quoted on CNBC and his speech can be viewed in the videos below as well.

“The Moon and Mars are often thought of as some escape hatch for rich people, but it won’t be that at all. For the early people that go to Mars, it will be far more dangerous.”

Elon Musk compared volunteering for the Mars colony to the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914. CNBC supplied a recruiting ad for the 1914 expedition led by Ernest Shackleton.

“Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey. Small Wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”

While Elon Musk is ready to bravely face the risks of a dangerous pioneering expedition to Mars, Musk is far more cautious about the future of artificial intelligence as explained by CNBC. Musk has frequently warned of the dangers of AI but at SXSW, Elon was able to articulate more of the reasoning behind his concerns.

“The biggest issue I see with so-called AI experts is that they think they know more than they do, and they think they are smarter than they actually are. This tends to plague smart people. They define themselves by their intelligence and they don’t like the idea that a machine could be way smarter than them, so they discount the idea — which is fundamentally flawed.”

It seems Elon Musk is not overly concerned about narrow application artificial intelligence and has no problem with machines that can drive cars or perform any other sort of task efficiently. No, Elon Musk is worried about machines that have a broad scope of open-ended superintelligence.

“I am not really all that worried about the short term stuff. Narrow AI is not a species-level risk. It will result in dislocation, in lost jobs, and better weaponry and that kind of thing, but it is not a fundamental species level risk, whereas digital superintelligence is.”

Elon Musk is calling for mandatory oversight of artificial intelligence projects. Musk insists that AI could have dire consequences for humanity. Elon’s comments are quoted on CNBC.

“It needs to be a public body that has insight and then oversight to confirm that everyone is developing AI safely. This is extremely important. I think the danger of AI is much greater than the danger of nuclear warheads by a lot and nobody would suggest that we allow anyone to build nuclear warheads if they want. That would be insane, and mark my words, AI is far more dangerous than nukes. Far. So why do we have no regulatory oversight? This is insane.”

Elon Musk fears artificial intelligence may outpace management

Elon Musk feels that AI is capable of far more than most scientists now assume, and more importantly, once artificial intelligence is developed it learns very quickly, and Musk feels that growth in digital intelligence could easily outpace any sort of human attempt to manage it.

“I am really quite close, I am very close, to the cutting edge in AI and it scares the hell out of me. It’s capable of vastly more than almost anyone knows and the rate of improvement is exponential.”

Elon Musk foresees an exciting future on Mars but repeatedly expresses concerns about the dangers of artificial intelligence.