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Why Does Elon Musk Think Robots Could Kill Us All?

Sending people to Mars? Easy. Building AI? Too dangerous…

Michael Cruickshank
Why Does Elon Musk Think Robots Could Kill Us All?© 2019 Wikipedia

Elon Musk is one of the most influential figures in tech at the moment. From his Space X venture which is revolutionising the way we send cargo into space, to the his other company Tesla Motors which is attempting to kick start an electric transport revolution, his name is synonymous with hi-tech innovation. This being said, there is one field of technology which he admits he is afraid of: Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence also known simply as AI, is the field of computing that revolves around creating computers which, simply put, are intelligent. While this can be interpreted quite broadly, it is usually assumed to mean computer systems which are both self aware and able to learn. They may begin as systems less than or equal to a human in terms of intelligence, but due to the their ability to increase their own intelligence, would rapidly surpass a human once built.

Speaking at a Q and A event at MIT, Elon Musk was asked on his opinion on the technology. Quite candidly, Elon explained that he was very apprehensive about the dangers of AI, claiming that he believed it to an equal or greater threat to the future of humanity than nuclear weapons.

Image: © 2014 Flickr - Saad Faruque

He likened the research into AI technology to the often occurring fantasy trope of a magician summoning a demon. While this magician thinks that he has the situation under control, and the demon confined, more often than not, this proves not to be case. Given that similarly, once built, an AI is so hard to control, he stated that he believes that governments should come to an agreement limited and regulating this kind of study.

But what is the risk posed by AI? Many believe that an artificially intelligent computer (or piece of software) would be likely to decide that humans pose a threat to its existence, and thus may try and fight us in a pre-emptive strike. Assuming that such an intelligence could multiply rapidly and become exponentially smarter, it would be incredibly difficult for humans to fight, and, as such, could pose a threat to the continuation of humanity.

While this sounds very sci-fi, Elon Musk isn’t the only well known figure worried. Earlier this year prominent scientist Stephen Hawking explained similar concerns that AI could “be a real danger in the not too distant future”.

Maybe its time we keep an eye on our Roomba’s…


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