Billionaire entrepreneur fears ‘godlike’ dictator ‘from which we can never escape’
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s biggest fear is a form of artificial intelligence that could create an “immortal dictator,” a “godlike” entity that rules the world and one “from which we can never escape.”
That’s what he says in a new documentary by American filmmaker Chris Paine about the imminent threat of AI, which he believes will be smarter than man and, of course, never die.
The Tesla and SpaceX chief executive officer says it could develop within one company – like Google — or among a small group of people.
“The least scary future I can think of is one where we have at least democratized AI because if one company or small group of people manages to develop godlike digital superintelligence, they could take over the world,” Musk said. “At least when there’s an evil dictator, that human is going to die. But for an AI, there would be no death. It would live forever. And then you’d have an immortal dictator from which we can never escape.”
The documentary by Paine examines a number of examples of AI, including autonomous weapons, Wall Street technology and algorithms driving fake news. It also draws from cultural examples of AI, such as the 1999 film “The Matrix” and 2016 film “Ex Machina.”
Musk cited Google’s DeepMind as an example of a company looking to develop superintelligence. In 2016, AlphaGo, a program developed by the company, beat champion Lee Se-dol at the board game Go. It was seen a major achievement in the development of AI, after IBM’s Deep Blue computer defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.
Musk said: “The DeepMind system can win at any game. It can already beat all the original Atari games. It is super human; it plays all the games at super speed in less than a minute.”
Artificial intelligence “doesn’t have to be evil to destroy humanity,” Musk said. “If AI has a goal and humanity just happens to be in the way, it will destroy humanity as a matter of course without even thinking about it. No hard feelings. It’s just like, if we’re building a road and an anthill just happens to be in the way, we don’t hate ants, we’re just building a road, and so, goodbye anthill.”
Last year, Musk warned that the global race toward AI could result in a third world war. The entrepreneur has also suggested that the emerging technology could pose a greater risk to the world than a nuclear conflict with North Korea.
Musk’s solution to the threat? He says humans should merge with AI to avoid the risk of becoming irrelevant. He is the co-founder of Neuralink, a start-up that reportedly wants to link the human brain with a computer interface.
He quit the board of OpenAI, a non-profit organization aimed at promoting and developing AI safely, in February.