Elon Musk: “Summoning the Demon”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been very vocal this year warning humanity about destructive Artificial Intelligence.

I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that …

It seems like the worries of a future we’ll never see, but the entire US stock market is currently at the mercy of highly sophisticated algorithms that can go berserk at a moments notice, crashing the entire stock market in a matter of minutes (or entire stocks in a matter of seconds).

Elon likens advanced AI to “summoning the demon”, comparing the resulting consequences to an uncontrollable beast who has the capability of destroying us.  It’s good to talk about it now, particularly coming from someone as innovative as Elon, but he’s speaking in generalities.  We’re already relying on technology that can get out of control.  It’s not AI that will decide humans are a threat, like Skynet, but its dangerous enough to shut down power grids, nuclear reactors, and the stock market if the programming breaks.

As the US military increasingly relies on drones and drone technology to fight, we’re entering an era where the next step in technology is giving these machines the power to kill autonomously.  Yet its not just the obvious control over weapon systems that could potentially turn on us, or accidentally kill based off of faulty programming, but the very systems that keep our modern way of life humming.  Putting our energy and resources in the hands of an unpredictable beast can be just as catastrophic as a defense system gone mad.  The problem is, as with all scientific progress, we’ll dive in first and figure out how to swim later.  And we may only learn our lesson after entire cities go dark, a reactor melts down, or a modern economy crashes.

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