Elon Musk is known for being a thought leader and entrepreneur in the tech world.
After giving us groundbreaking technology in the form of Tesla and supporting interstellar exploration with SpaceX, the technological wunderkind moved into batteries with Gigafactory. His future involves autonomous cars and AI, but he says it comes with a caveat.
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No More Steering Wheels
The name “Elon Musk” is almost synonymous with technological innovation. He engineered breakthroughs in electric cars, space research, batteries, and now: autonomous cars. Earlier this month, Musk attended a “fireside chat” at the National Governors Association’s summer meeting in Providence, R.I. The tech giant discussed many things (most notably self-driving cars and killer robots).
“In 20 years, it’ll be like having a horse,” Musk said. “People have horses, which is cool…It just would be unusual to use that as a mode of transportation” Musk joked. But as lightheartedly as he approached the subject of self-driving cars, he approached artificial intelligence with grave concern.
All Glory to Our Robot Overlords
Cyberpunk and other genres of sci-fi tousle with questions about how robots and AI will affect humanity. But for every Ghost in the Shell, you get a Terminator, too. Musk raised this very concern with a hypothetical scenario very close to current events.
“The thing that’s most dangerous is…deep intelligence in the network. You might say, ‘What harm would deep intelligence in the network do?’ Well, it could start a war, by doing fake news and spoofing email accounts and fake press releases, and just by manipulating information.”
This fear of AI “taking over the world” is not a new concept for Musk. He, along with other top names in tech and venture capitalism, went so far as to form OpenAI — a non-profit dedicated to forming AI that operates “in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.”
As someone who works in mostly practical applications of technology, it is understandable that Musk would have these concerns.
After all, Skynet wasn’t built in a day and many people are already concerned about Google…who may have accidentally created Skynet. The data colossus isn’t all bad though; Google is also working on contingency plans to prevent Skynet from forming.
Harmless Consciousness or Acute Awareness?
Some robots in sci-fi become belligerent or disobey the three laws of Isaac Asimov’s robotics, but some robots are like Bender from Futurama. Despite everyone’s favorite bending unit constantly joking about “killing all humans”, he never actually does it. Then again, we could also find ourselves in a Mass Effect 3 situation. Regardless of concerns over AI, autonomous cars are definitely happening…and soon.