Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX C.E.O. is worried that a “super-intelligent” machine might decide to destroy human life. AI, in his mind, is progressing uncontrollably fast! Musk expressed his concerns to Walter Isaacson, the president and C.E.O. of the Aspen Institute, while on stage at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in San Francisco. “I don’t think anyone realizes how quickly artificial intelligence is advancing. Particularly if [the machine is] involved in recursive self-improvement . . . and its utility function is something that’s detrimental to humanity, then it will have a very bad effect,” said Musk.
Musk wasn’t laughing. “Elon’s crusade” (as one of his friends and fellow tech big shots calls it) against unfettered A.I. had begun.
“If its [function] is just something like getting rid of e-mail spam and it determines the best way of getting rid of spam is getting rid of humans . . . ” Musk trailed off, as the crowd laughed. When asked if SpaceX got get away to Mars, the company’s main goal, Musk replied “More likely than not that if there’s some . . . apocalypse scenario, it may follow people from Earth,” said Musk.
“Do you think you maybe read too much science fiction?” Isaacson finally asked Musk. “Yes, that’s possible,” he said. “Probably.”
Elon Musk is famous for his futuristic gambles, but Silicon Valley’s latest rush is to save humanity from machine-learning overlords, according to Vanity Fair. As they report, Musk’s alarming views on the dangers of A.I. first went viral after he spoke at M.I.T. in 2014—speculating (pre-Trump) that A.I. was probably humanity’s “biggest existential threat.” He added that he was increasingly inclined to think there should be some national or international regulatory oversight—anathema to Silicon Valley—“to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.” He went on: “With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. You know all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water and he’s like, yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out.” Some A.I. engineers found Musk’s theatricality so absurdly amusing that they began echoing it. When they would return to the lab after a break, they’d say, “O.K., let’s get back to work summoning.”
Via: Vanity Fair
Photograph by Jonas Fredwall Karlsson.