Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk believes government bureaucrats must craft regulations against artificial intelligence (AI) before robots begin killing people in the streets.
Musk has issued similar warnings in the past but ratcheted up his rhetoric on the issue Saturday during a National Governors Association (NGA) summer meeting in Rhode Island. He described so-called AI as the “biggest risk we face as a civilization.”
“Until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal,” he said, according to a report published by a tech outlet that attended the speech.
“AI is a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive. Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’s too late,” he added.
Musk, who co-chairs electric carmaker Tesla and solar company Solar City, used his financial clout in 2015 to fund a new non-profit company called Open AI, which seeks to fund artificial intelligence that will avoid extinguishing all of humankind.
“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,” the company website states.
Tech groups have criticized Musk in the past for his supposedly anti-AI position.
The Information, Technology, and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), for instance, called the Tesla CEO an “alarmist” in 2015 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 published a list of 10 nominees for the 2015 Luddite of the year award. Among those nominated that year were people who believe in the “artificial intelligence apocalypse” and folks who choose taxi cabs over rider-sharing companies like Uber, among others.
Musk also told the audience at the NGA summer meeting that he expects “more than half of new vehicles” will be fully electric in the U.S. within the next decade. There will soon be no need for steering wheels, he added.
“I think things are going to grow exponentially,” Musk said. “There’s a big difference between five and 10 years. My guess is probably in 10 years more than half of new vehicle production is electric in the United States.”
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