We are 'summoning the demon' with AI: technologist Elon Musk
Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk Photo: MIT
This post was originally published on Mashable.
There have already been several dire warnings from Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk in recent months regarding the perils of artificial intelligence, but this week he actually managed to raise the bar in terms of making AI seem scary.
First, according to Musk, AI was as dangerous as nuclear war. Now Musk is likening the possible battle between humans and computers in the future, termed by some as 'the singularity,' as a struggle for the soul of mankind itself.
How so? By invoking the one thing even those with little interest in technology fear the most: demons!
In an hour-long interview for MIT, which held its Centennial Symposium last week, Musk opened himself up to the audience for questions. Most of the questions were about space travel, but one audience member asked Musk for his thoughts on artificial intelligence, and that's when things got a bit spooky.
'I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence,' said Musk, the expression on his face suddenly turning very serious. 'If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it's probably that. So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence. 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.'
Sounds reasonable. Prudent even. A generally conservative approach to a potential technological issue facing our world in the future. Wise words.
'With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon,' said Musk. '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.' Doesn't work out.'
Forget Tony Stark, the comic book character most often associated with Musk, it may be time to start thinking Doctor Strange. Pentagram? Really, Elon?
And lest you think Musk was just fooling around about his fear of the potential dangers of AI, when the next questioner asked him about telecommunications, he stumbled for a bit and admitted that he was still pondering the question of AI. You can watch the entire video below, or click here to skip to Musk's demonology musings.
Sure, it's just a colorful metaphor, but coming from such an accomplished technologist, those comments are pretty startling. Musk is scared. Really scared.
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