When tech big weight Elon Musk talks, you have got to listen. The man who has successfully turned his $160 to $180 million payout for his second company, x.com into $15 billion Space X and $50 billion Tesla business recently had some choice words to say about the pace at which Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking over the world.
Speaking before a meeting of the United State’s National Governor’s Association on Saturday, the South African born American Business Magnate called AI as “the greatest risk we face as a civilisation.” This coming from a man who is fearless about sending people to Mars and believes that all cars will be driving themselves in the next 10 years comes as a bit of surprise. But, this is not the first time that Musk has warned humanity about the idea of AI, software and machines double crossing their human creators and taking over them. But, yeah, this is very first time he went to the extent of calling it the greatest risk we as a civilisation are facing right now.
Not only did Musk voice his concerns about AI, he also urged the government to oversee the technology’s future development. Musk wants the government to regulate the technology starting now as he believes if the government mulls on the matter for long, it might be too late for human civilisation. Speaking at the Saturday meeting, he said, “AI’s a rare case where we need to be proactive in regulation, instead of reactive. Because by the time we are reactive with AI regulation, it’s too late.”
In order to make his regulation case stronger, Tesla CEO even sketched a contrast between AI and traditional targets for regulation, and said, “AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization, in a way that car accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs, or bad food were not.” Such strong words from a man who is often associated with so-called term “cyberlibertarianism” really puts even the people least interested in tech into deep thinking.
Musk believes that there’s a need for a broad government regulation for AI as tech companies are currently being pressurised into pursuing advanced AI or risk irrelevance in the marketplace. He believes that a regulation will help the companies in spending a moment in analysing if what they’re pursuing is safe for humanity. Explaining why regulators need to make this happen as soon as possible, he said, “You kind of need the regulators to do that for all the teams in the game. Otherwise the shareholders will be saying, why aren’t you developing AI faster? Because your competitor is.”
A part of Musk’s cynicism about AI’s development pace comes from social destabilization and job loss that AI can cause. “When I say everything, the robots will do everything, bar nothing,” he said.
A big concern for Musk is the AI that lives in the network, and which can be easily incentivised to harm human beings. According to him, they are capable of starting a war by spreading fake news, spoofing email accounts and faking press releases, and all this just by simply manipulating information.
Though Musk believes in AI regulation, he’s strictly against the government taking his concerns a step ahead and having overregulation in place.