Elon Musk Thinks There’s One ‘Lucky’ Scenario If Artificial Intelligence Enslaves Us

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk gave his latest warning about the danger artificial intelligence poses humanity on Sunday, and though man behind some of Silicon Valley’s hottest companies has a proven record for seeing the future, he said there’s hope — instead of facing extinction, we could just become pets.

“I’m quite worried about artificial super intelligence these days. I think it’s something that’s maybe more dangerous than nuclear weapons,” Musk said during an interview aired on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk podcast, first noticed by Motherboard. “We should be really careful about that.”

“If there was a digital super intelligence that was created that could go into rapid, recursive self improvement in a non-logarithmic way, that could reprogram itself to be smarter and iterate really quickly and do that 24 hours a day on millions of computers, then that’s all she wrote.”

Musk has previously compared AI research to “summoning the demon” and warned of a Matrix/Terminator-esque dystopian future resulting from unchecked AI self-actualization (what experts refer to as “the singularity) and self-improvement. Such an intelligence, Musk warns, could conclude human behavior is too potentially destructive to AI, the planet or itself to go unchecked. In such a situation, human enslavement (see: “The Matrix”) or genocide (see: “Terminator”) could be the most logical solution.

The CEO of Tesla Motors, SpaceX and chairman of Solar City takes the threat seriously — he’s read and recommended lengthy research by experts in the field, invested in AI developers to track their progress and donated $10 million to fund research dedicated to preventing such a scenario. (RELATED: Elon Musk Donates $10 Million To Keep AI From Wiping Out Humanity)

“The utility function of the digital super intelligence is of stupendous importance. What does it try to optimize? We need to be really careful with saying, ‘How about human happiness?’” Musk said. “It can conclude that an unhappy human should be terminated. Or that we should all be captured and [constantly] injected with dopamine and serotonin to optimize happiness. I’m just saying we should exercise caution.”

“We’ll be like a pet labrador if we’re lucky.”

Tyson invited noted scientific personality Bill Nye to co-host, who was more skeptical of Musk’s concerns.

“Twenty percent of the world’s population does not have electricity. They’ve never made a phone call,” Nye said. “I think people have to keep in mind — computers are so reliable, but somebody is literally or in a sense shoveling the coal. What happens if you unplug the supercomputer or intelligence?”

“It seems like a solvable problem.”

Tyson also asked Musk about his journey to the top of Silicon Valley, private space exploration, renewable energy and the early goals that drove him toward all of them and more. Listen to the whole thing here.

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