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Elon Musk Says Artificial Intelligence is Akin to Summoning a Demon

Elon Musk wants to retire on Mars, but he’s going to be at the helm of whatever spacecraft gets him there.

The SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO spoke Friday at MIT’s Aeronautics and Astronautics department’s Centennial Symposium, and during his hour-and-a-half interview he called artificial intelligence our biggest existential threat. He, for one, does not welcome our robot overlords.

“I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight at the national and international level just to make sure that we don’t do something foolish,” Musk said. He then went on to liken AI to summoning the demon. This is coming right on the heels of Musk tweeting that AI might be more dangerous than nuclear weapons.

It is, of course, the common science fiction trope to see an inventor lose control of his technology, finding himself standing idly by while it wreaks havoc on the world.

Which makes it even stranger that Musk’s latest technological unveiling, the Tesla Model D, involves a fair bit of sophisticated automation. Safety features on the car include a forward mounted radar, a camera, and 12 sensors. These will feed steering braking, and GPS information to the car’s computerized brain, allowing it to avoid obstacles on the road like other cars and pedestrians.

The model D will also be able to change lane’s on its own, keep itself in its lane, and read posted speed limits to avoid getting its driver a ticket. It will even be able to pull into its owner’s garage on its own.

All this sounds a lot like a form of artificial intelligence, but Musk instead calls it “autopilot.” It will be more closely related to an airplane managing its systems and assessing its environment than the self-driving cars Google is working on bringing to life. Which means its unlikely Musk’s D will have any ability to come to life and enslave the human race.

You can watch the full interview with Musk on MIT’s website.

Featured image via MIT



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  1. Michael says:

    Amy; AI and “sophisticated automation” isn’t even close. Nice try.

    • Ronnie says:

      ‘AI’, as a field, has many different goals and applications. If you weren’t aware, even video games are said to have a ‘game AI’ for their enemies. ‘AI’ doesn’t mean what you see in the movies, at least not yet, not by any means. 

  2. …I’m still processin’…….  I’ll take lil break now … 

  3. ….I’m still prossesin’  ….! 

  4. “ELON MUSK SAYS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS AKIN TO SUMMONING A DEMON” aka Now you can be sure that Elon Musk will not be the one to make a real-life Ultron.

  5. AlienSnikrep says:

    AI and automated machinery are two completely different things. AI has the ability to observe, calculate, and make conclusions (see Captain America 2: Winter Soldier). Automated machinery has a specific, simple task and can do nothing beyond that task nor produce results unforeseen by its creator.

  6. Automata is an interesting movie that might give an answer what Elon Musk said.

  7. “Musk’s D will have any ability to come to life and enslave the human race.” LOOOOOOOOOOL

  8. David says:

    “All this sounds a lot like a form of artificial intelligence” lol…no. No it does not. It sounds like automation. Automation is not intelligence. He calls it automation because that’s what it is.

  9. Eric Dillon says:

    “Ith we geth too dependenth on technology, computhers will wake up and kill uth so we hath to kill them before they wake up but we dont wanth to kill them too thoon or we will mith out on all that pornography the interneth makes etheryday” -Mike Tyson-

  10. CJF says:

    This is an interesting piece, and I love the Nerdist, but if you want to be taken seriously as a source of information, you should really learn how to use apostrophes.