Was Elon Musk Wrong About AI’s Threat To Humanity?

Elon Musk stated Artificial Intelligence was an existential threat to humanity. However, the founding director of MIT’s Computer Science and AI Lab, and co-founder alluded to Musk being mistaken.

This wasn’t the first time Elon Musk warned of Artificial Intelligence being used for dangerous ends. In a Fortune video interview August 2016, Musk illustrated how a hedge fund could easily use Artificial Intelligence for a benign purpose ending in humanitarian disaster:

  1. Hedge fund’s goal is to maximize value for investors
  2. Hedge fund shorts all consumer stocks
  3. Hedge fund goes long on defense/military stocks
  4. Hedge fund does whatever it can through AI to start a war

What Elon Musk said last week, however, was without this context.

Was Elon Musk Wrong?

Rodney Brooks the founding director of MIT’s Computer Science and AI Lab, and co-founder of iRobot answered Techcrunch’s question if AI needed to be regulated:

“If you’re going to have a regulation now, either it applies to something and changes something in the world, or it doesn’t apply to anything. If it doesn’t apply to anything, what the hell do you have the regulation for?

“What was likely inside Elon Musk’s head was the question of Artificial Intelligence and avoiding auto accidents with self-driving cars,” said Jeff Greenfield, Co-Founder of advanced advertising attribution measurement firm C3 Metrics “Meaning, if a Tesla vehicle knows there is going to be an unavoidable accident between the Tesla and a young family…how does AI decide which party gets the most or least death & damage? That’s a regulation question that Tesla does not want to make…but wants the government to regulate instead.”

Do we need more regulation?

It depends.

Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord prompted Elon Musk to resign from Trump’s Economic Advisory Council, and in some cases regulation makes sense.

Regulating Hedge Funds from using war-like tactics to optimize portfolios? Yes.

To regulate all of Artificial Intelligence? No.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: they won’t be terminated.