Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk recently compared artificial intelligence (A.I.) to “an evil dictator” who “could take over the world.”
“The least scary future I can think of is one where we have at least democratized A.I. because if one company or small group of people manages to develop godlike digital superintelligence, they could take over the world,” Musk said in the new documentary “Do You Trust This Computer?”
“At least when there’s an evil dictator, that human is going to die. But for an A.I., there would be no death. It would live forever. And then you’d have an immortal dictator from which we can never escape.”
Artificial intelligence has arrived and its impact on society is immeasurable. Roughly 84 percent of Americans are already using artificial intelligence, according to a survey conducted by Northeastern University in Boston and Gallup. Merriam-Webster defines artificial intelligence as “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.” Autonomous vehicles, proving mathematical theorems, online assistants, image recognition in photographs and spam filtering are five examples of such world-changing digital capabilities. Moreover, countless healthcare organizations are presently utilizing artificial intelligence to properly diagnose and treat patients.
Although established in 1956, artificial intelligence has rapidly expanded and evolved over the past decade alone and transformed how many companies conduct its business practices. Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the Washington Post in January that artificial intelligence “touches every single one of our main projects, ranging from search to photos to ads … everything we do.” Perhaps more than any other country, China is determined to dominate this field and become the industry’s leaders in it. In fact, in July 2017, China disclosed that it’s seeking to create a global artificial-intelligence industry worth $150 billion by 2030.
Robert O. Work, who served as the United States’ 32nd Deputy Secretary of Defense from May 2014 until July 2017, has urged government officials to remain diligent and advance its artificial intelligence capacities. Work, who now collaborates with the Center for a New American Security and created Project Maven to bolster the United States’ artificial intelligence capabilities, contends that the upcoming years will prove to be pivotal ones and that our nation must compete with China’s efforts.
“The question is, how should the United States respond to this challenge (by China)?” Work told the New York Times on March 15. “This is a Sputnik moment.”
Regrettably for Work, and other high-ranking military and intelligence officials, many of Silicon Valley’s tech giants have been hesitant to assist the Pentagon in lieu of the Edward Snowden scandal in 2013. To combat resistance, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced in May 2016 that the Pentagon’s office in Silicon Valley was going to be dramatically overhauled and refined. Furthermore, Carter made it clear that all staff would report to him henceforth and he predicts that the brilliant minds at America’s largest internet companies will ultimately serve as advisors.
“I’m not expecting the technology world to be more like the Pentagon,” Carter told media after making his announcement. “And we’ll never be like a company because we have a very important mission and we represent the profession of arms. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn how the innovative world in Silicon Valley operates. I’m determined to learn that.”
Carter said that he’s already learned invaluable information from the technological heavyweights based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“I think one of the things we learned from DIUx is that the Department of Defense is frequently not rapid and agile enough,” Carter said. “(Entrepreneurs will) “understand places in the Department of Defense where they secure funding for ideas that they think are relevant to defense.”
Beyond military efforts, many pundits and onlookers have conveyed worry that artificial intelligence will reduce jobs and endanger humanity. Essentially, cynics believe that new artificial intelligence creations like Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri will descend into monstrous robots resembling the ones seen in the “Terminator” movies. Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates agrees with Musk and is uneasy regarding the future of computing.
“I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence,” Gates wrote.
“First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”
From Fortune 500 conglomerates to small upstarts, mankind has embraced groundbreaking digital solutions. Artificial intelligence is a reality and one that will continue to promote tremendous economic and social changes. To properly adapt to its nuances, Musk suggests regulating artificial intelligence and merging the human brain to a computer.
“If A.I. has a goal and humanity just happens to be in the way, it will destroy humanity as a matter of course without even thinking about it. No hard feelings,” said Musk, who referred to artificial intelligence as “summoning the demon” during a discussion in October 2017 at the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department’s Centennial Symposium.
“It’s just like, if we’re building a road and an anthill just happens to be in the way, we don’t hate ants, we’re just building a road, and so, goodbye anthill.”
Elon Musk and his representatives did not respond to interview requests for this story.