When a legendary technology expert speaks out, maybe we should listen more carefully. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, co-founder of PayPal, and chief product architect of Tesla Motors, continues to warn the masses that artificial intelligence holds a dark potential – the malicious capability of AI to overthrow mankind. Musk, who has been likened to a real-life version of Marvel Comic’s Tony Stark, bluntly told participants last week at the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department’s 2014 Centennial Symposium:
“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence… You know 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… With artificial intelligence, we are summoning that demon.”
As the science of Artificial Intelligence matures, Musk’s warnings have become more dire and forthright. In fact, Musk purposefully invests in companies working with AI not to realize a return on his capital but rather, to “keep an eye on the technology”. According to Musk, AI is “potentially more dangerous than nukes” and remarked that “a future AI system tasked with eliminating spam might decide that the best way to accomplish this task is to eliminate humans.” Truly Musk feels AI is the most serious threat to the survival of the human race.
Musk’s solution to the impending doom? Musk believes our governments should keep a close eye on AI developments.
“If I were to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably [Artificial Intelligence]… I’m increasingly inclined to 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.”
Musk is one of the high-profile investors, alongside Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and the actor Ashton Kutcher, in Vicarious, a company aiming to build a computer that can think like a person, with a neural network capable of replicating the part of the brain that controls vision, body movement and language.