UPDATED 23:45 EST / NOVEMBER 22 2017


Elon Musk warns there’s only a small chance artificial intelligence won’t kill us all

Elon Musk is back on the artificial intelligence scaremongering bandwagon, saying in a recent talk that AI is probably going to kill us all.

The Tesla Inc. chief executive made the comments talking to employees at his neurotechnology company Neuralink Inc., a startup developing “high bandwidth and safe brain-machine interfaces.” He said efforts to make AI safe have only “a 5 to 10 percent chance of success.”

Interestingly, Musk went on to say that at least some of the risk is thanks to AI development being led by only a few companies, citing development by Facebook Inc., Google LLC, Amazon.com Inc. and “arguably” Apple Inc. in particular. “There’s a lot of risk in concentration of power,” Musk said. “So if AGI [artificial general intelligence] represents an extreme level of power, should that be controlled by a few people at Google with no oversight?”

Showing a perhaps lighter side to a serious subject, Musk apparently told employees after the presentation that they should “sleep well” before grabbing a piece of popcorn, dropping it in his mouth, then starting to cough. “We’re talking about threats to humanity,” he was claimed to have said, “and I’m going to choke to death on popcorn.”

The latest warnings on the dangers of AI are far from the entrepreneur’s first. Musk in September predicted AI will start World War III, presumably a war that will involve the killer robots he warned about in August.

While some, such as researchers at Oxford University and Microsoft Corp.’s Chris Bishop, also subscribe to Musk’s view that AI is a serious threat to humanity, others differ. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously called Musk a “naysayer” with doomsday fears of AI that cause unnecessary negativity.

In an effort to combat the threat presented by AI, Musk and a number of high-profile tech entrepreneurs  in December 2015 established OpenAI Inc., a not-for-profit company that aims to develop AI that doesn’t morph into killer robots.

Photo: 28277470@N05/Flickr

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