What Scares Elon Musk About Artificial Intelligence?

By Alan Olsen

As the world of technology continues to move into the furthest realms of the imagination, new ideas, services and products continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible. With virtual reality and now artificial intelligence gaining more steam, these kinds of technologies also create moral dilemmas for many people. While virtual reality doesn’t appear to have any real inherent dangers, artificial intelligence, on the other hand, is more complex. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as speech recognition, visual perception, translating languages and decision-making. While that all sounds great, not everyone thinks it’s a good idea to create machines that can do our thinking and feeling for us.


Make AI Available to All

Elon Musk, who has started and owns several companies, most notably, Tesla Motors, has been a voice of caution when it comes to AI. While Elon is the co-chairman of OpenAI, a non-profit AI research company seeking to promote open-source friendly AI, he has expressed concern about the possibility that someone could pursue AI to do more harm in the world than good. Despite his concerns, Elon does feel that AI can have many benefits if used properly by the right people. In fact, he pointed out that he believes AI will most likely be the single greatest thing to affect the future of humanity. Elon recently discussed artificial intelligence in an interview and shared his hope for the technology going forward. “The best of the available alternatives that I can come up with – and maybe someone else can come up with a better approach or better outcome – is that we achieve democratization of AI technology. Meaning that no one company or small set of individuals has control over advanced AI technology.”


Risks of AI

So what is it that scares Elon so much about AI? Mainly he is concerned that it could fall into the wrong hands. For example, what if an evil dictator was to steal it and use it for harmful purposes. “I think if you've got any incredibly powerful AI, you just don't know who's going to control that. So it's not that I think that the risk is that the AI would develop a will of its own right off the bat. I think the concern is that someone may use it in a way that is bad. So I think we must have democratization of AI technology to make it widely available.” Aside from the possible dangers, Elon also spoke about how AI could work with the brain.


Melding AI With the Human Brain

“We already have a situation in our brain where we've got the cortex and the limbic system. The limbic system is kind of…the primitive brain. That's kind of like your instincts and whatnot. And the cortex is the thinking upper part of the brain. Those two seem to work together quite well. So I think if we can effectively merge with AI by improving the neural link between your cortex and your digital extension of yourself…then effectively you become an AI-human symbiote. And if that then is widespread, with anyone who wants it can have it, then we solve the control problem as well, we don't have to worry about some evil dictator AI because we are the AI collectively. That seems like the best outcome I can think of.”

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