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Innovation Group Nominates Elon Musk For ‘2015 Luddite Of The Year Award’

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Chris White Tech Reporter

An innovation and technology group called Elon Musk a “Luddite” last week after the Tesla CEO signed a letter warning of the risks artificial intelligence poses to the world.

The Information, Technology, and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) called Musk an “alarmist” for pledging $1 billion to prevent the proliferation of autonomous robots, adding that he and his ilk stoke fear about an upcoming artificial intelligence revolution.

ITIF has published its list of 10 nominees for 2015 Luddite of the year award — among those nominated are people, like Musk, who believe in the “artificial intelligence apocalypse,” and folks who choose taxi cabs over rider-sharing companies like Uber, among others.

According to the group’s website: “Neo-Luddites no longer wield sledgehammers, but they wield something much more powerful: bad ideas. For they work to convince policymakers and the public that innovation is the cause, not the solution to some of our biggest social and economic challenges, and therefore something to be thwarted.”

The Luddite reference stems from the 19th century, when a group of English workers stormed the country side smashing cotton mills and lumber mills, claiming the then-new technologies were destroying their jobs.

Musk — the techno-mind behind beleaguered solar company Solar City — is using his financial clout to fund a new non-profit company called Open AI, which, among other things, seeks to fund artificial intelligence that takes great pains to avoid extinguishing all of humankind.

According to the company’s website.”Our goal is to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.”

Musk is not the only technologist and scientist issuing warnings about robots. Professor Stephen Hawking, for one, suggested on a Reddit Ask Me Anything session that robots could use their acquired intelligence to destroy people.

“The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence,” Hawking told the session’s participants.

“A super intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble,” the noted physicist warned.

“You’re probably not an evil ant-hater who steps on ants out of malice, but if you’re in charge of a hydroelectric green energy project and there’s an anthill in the region to be flooded, too bad for the ants. Let’s not place humanity in the position of those ants,” Hawking said about AI’s effect on an unprepared people.

“It might take decades to figure out how to” make artificial intelligence less deadly to humans Hawking said, adding “so let’s start researching this today rather than the night before the first strong AI is switched on.”

The National Rifle Association won the Luddite award last year for opposing smart guns, as did the French Government for prohibiting Amazon from providing free shipping to customers.

Voting on the award is open to the public on the ITIF website. Results are expected within a week.

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