Elon Musk has warned that artificial intelligence may be humanity’s greatest threat

In Politics & Society, Science & Technology
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On 15 July 2017 Elon Musk officially sounded the Artificial Intelligence alarm.

Musk was the keynote speaker at the National Governors Association (NGA) 2017 Summer Meeting.

In a conversation at the meeting posted on YouTube that covered future multi-planetary travel, autonomous driving cars in boring tunnels, Musk once again took the opportunity to voice his concern about the threats from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Superintelligence.

“I have exposure to the very cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned about it. I keep sounding the alarm bell, but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal.”

Musk has said many times, including at the World Government Summit in Dubai, in February, that the technology poses an existential risk to humanity.

At a gathering of US governors this weekend, he repeated these sentiments. “AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization, in a way that car accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs, or bad food were not.”

Musk says governments need to start regulating AI now. “AI’s a rare case where we need to be proactive in regulation, instead of reactive. Because by the time we are reactive with AI regulation, it’s too late,” Musk said.

So far there is no clear public policy on AI or software related to the technology.

He added that the current model of regulation where regulations are normally only set up after “a whole bunch of bad things happen takes a long time, because companies resist regulation.

In the past this long delay has been bad, but it didn’t present a fundamental risk to civilization as does AI, says Musk.

Musk went on to say the introduction of broad government measures was necessary, because marketplace pressures are going to force companies to adopt of AI. This is where regulators must step in to make sure that it’s safe to proceed.

Musk warned that robots will definitely replace humans in jobs. “When I say everything, the robots will do everything, bar nothing,” he said.

Musk suggested the leaders learn as much as possible about artificial intelligence in order to inform their decision-making which should be for the public good.

But the scariest is the deep intelligence in the network. It could start a war by releasing fake news and spoofing email accounts and fake press releases, and just by manipulating information, Musk said.

In answer to a question by governor Ducey from Arizona, Musk said that the first order of business for regulators would be to gain insight into the status of AI activity and make sure there is awareness at government level. Once there is government awareness, he predicted, they will be extremely afraid.

Musk is not waiting for the regulators to act though. He was an early investor in DeepMind before it was acquired by Google in 2014. He told Vanity Fair that his involvement was not about a return on his investment but rather to keep a wary eye on the course of AI.

Musk also joined Hawking, Demis Hassabis, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Stuart Russell, a computer-science professor at Berkeley who co-authored the standard textbook on artificial intelligence, and 1,000 other prominent figures in signing a letter calling for a ban on offensive autonomous weapons, reports Vanity Fair.

In another move, Musk has founded OpenAI, a non-profit artificial intelligence research company to work for safer artificial intelligence with Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator in December 2015.