Elon Musk: Artificial Intelligence Is Humanity's 'Biggest Existential Threat'
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has made his deep reservations about artificial intelligence abundently clear: In June, describing his paranoia of a Terminator-like future of robots gone awry, he told CNBC “nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, but you have to be careful," and in August he speculated that AI's applications could be "potentially more dangerous than nukes" via a tweet.
Speaking at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology symposium on Friday, Musk elaborated further, warning in direct terms that artificially intelligent machines could be mankind's "biggest existential threat," the Washington Post reports.
"With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon," he told the audience. "In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like yeah he’s sure he can control the demon…Didn’t work out."
Musk, an investor in AI companies including Vicarious, also mentioned the increasing popular opinion among scientists that "there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish."
In addition to his concerns about the future of AI, Musk touched on his mission to colonize Mars. While singular missions are "cool," he said, "what matters is being able to establish a self-sustaining civilization on Mars, and I don’t see anything being done but SpaceX. I don’t see anyone else even trying."
Unfortunately, even if Musk's colonization dream is actualized, that doesn't mean AI is any less of a threat. In June, CNBC's Kelly Evans asked him, half-jokingly, that if robots turn on us, can't we "escape to Mars if there is no other option?"
Musk answered seriously: “The AI will chase us there pretty quickly."