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Elon Musk's Money Is Being Used to Stop AI From Obliterating Humans Prepare, people. The machines are rising.

By Kim Lachance Shandrow

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Some of the greatest minds of our time -- Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk -- fear that artificially intelligent robots will one day rise up and usurp the human race. AI machines will become smarter than us, they warn. When they are, we'll either make great pets or be exterminated like bugs. That is if we don't outsmart them first.

No, they're not kidding. And, yes, they possess the intellectual "credentials to back up the distress."

Related: 5 Things You Don't Know About Elon Musk

Unlike Mark Zuckerberg, Musk leans toward the worst-case scenario here, speculating that AI bots could be mankind's "biggest existential threat," "potentially more dangerous than nukes." The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla -- the real-life inspiration for Iron Man's Tony Stark -- isn't just alerting the masses to a future we might not be part of by merely flapping his gums. He's putting his mega money where his outspoken mouth is.

Last January, the eccentric billionaire inventor-entrepreneur donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute (FLI), a volunteer-run organization "working to mitigate existential risks facing humanity." Now funds from Musk's investment are being used to research just how ugly it could potentially get for us if AI turns into the "demon" he says it could be, as well as how we can prevent a Terminator-like future. Pretty dark stuff, eh?

The FLI announced yesterday that it's awarding $7 million in grants, including a reported $6 million bump from Musk, to 37 AI-focused research teams. The researchers are basically tasked with "keeping robots from murdering you," as The Verge mildly puts it. Yeah, no pressure. Power to the people.

Related: Elon Musk's Ex-Wife on What She Learned Living With an Extreme Entrepreneurial Success

Kim Lachance Shandrow

Former West Coast Editor

Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper, HealthCentral.com, PsychCentral.com and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here

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