The Future of AI: Immortality or Human Extinction?

By Michael Howard – –

Elon Musk has joined everyone from the Unabomber to James Cameron (sometimes) to grandfathers worldwide in their fear of future technology. The difference is that Ted Kaczynski is a crazy murderer, whereas Musk is a sane philanthropist and technology expert whose respected vision of the future beckons genuine concern.

Musk spoke to MIT’s Aeronautics and Astronautics department at their Centennial Symposium:

I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with artificial intelligence.
I’m increasingly inclined to think that 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.

With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. You know 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, [but] it doesn’t work out.

Unlike the Unabomber, Musk isn’t exploding humans to show his concern for humans. He’s putting his money where his fear of dystopian apocalypse is. In March, he invested in an AI startup, Vicarious, alongside other tech billionaires such as Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerburg. Musk told CNBC his investment comes “not from the standpoint of trying to make any investment return” but because he wants to monitor the “potentially dangerous outcome” of AI.

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