Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla Inc. and Space X, warns that development of artificial intelligence could become a grave danger for the human race in the upcoming decades.
Musk warns that humans mustn’t wait for a disaster to happen before deciding to regulate it, and that AI is, in his eyes, the scariest problem we now face. He also wants the companies working on AI to slow down to ensure they don’t unintentionally build something unsafe.
“I have exposure to the most cutting-edge AI and I think people should be really concerned about it,” he said. “I keep sounding the alarm bell but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal.
Musk also fears that by the time world government realize the dangers and decide to impose regulations on robots, it could be too late. “I think we should be really concerned about AI and I think we should… AI’s 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.
“Normally the way regulations are set up is that a whole bunch of bad things happen, there’s a public outcry, and then after many years, a regulatory agency is set up to regulate that industry. There’s a bunch of opposition from companies who don’t like being told what to do by regulators. It takes forever.
“That, in the past, has been bad but not something which represented a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization. AI is a fundamental risk to the risk of human civilisation, in a way that car accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs or bad food were not. They were harmful to a set of individuals in society, but they were not harmful to society as a whole.
“AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization, and I don’t think people fully appreciate that.”
However, Musk acknowledges that this will be easier said than done, since companies don’t like being regulated. Also, any organization working on AI will be “crushed” by competing companies if they don’t operate as fast as possible, he said. It would be up to a regulator to control all of them. “When it’s cool and regulators are convinced that it’s safe to proceed, then you can go. But otherwise, slow down.”
Musk concluded his review with a call wake-up call and a shed of positivism : “I think we’d better get on [introducing regulation] with AI, pronto. There’ll certainly be a lot of job disruption because what’s going to happen is robots will be able to do everything better than us. I’m including all of us.”