Elon Musk takes a fatalistic view toward AI

Elon Musk says that artificial intelligence could be terrible or it could be great, but that it won’t be able to be controlled.

“You kinda have to be optimistic about the future. There’s no point in being pessimistic, said the head of Tesla and SpaceX. ”I rather be optimistic and wrong, than pessimistic and right.”

Musk made his comments as a guest on the Joe Rogen Experience Podcast.

“It’s not necessarily bad, but its going to be outside of human control.  Its going to be very tempting to use AI as a weapon, said Musk. “It will be used as a weapon. The on ramp to serious AI will be more humans using it against eachother. That will be the danger.”

Musk says he has tried to convince people to slow down where AI is concerned and regulate it, but nobody listened.

“The way that regulation works is slow. Usually there will be some new technology that will cause damage or death, there will be an outcry, there will be an investigation,” said the Tesla CEO. “Years will pass, there will be some insight committee, then rule making and oversight and eventually regulations. This all takes many years. This is the normal course of things.”

Musk used the example that it took ten years for seatbelts to become required, even though the number of deaths were obvious.

He says this time frame doesn’t work for AI.

“We can’t wait ten years to the point where something is dangerous to do something about AI. It will be too late,” said Musk.

Musk started elaborating on a form of AI that people use every day. His thoughts got very deep and philosophical.

“There’s sort of a collective AI in a Google search, said Musk.  “We are all leaves on a big tree and we are feeding this network without questions and answers. We are all collectively programming AI.  And Google, plus all the humans that connect to it are one giant cybernetic collective. This also true of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and the other social networks.”

He said that AI has a great memory and it will continue to learn.

“It feels like we are the biological boot-loader for AI. We are building it. We are building progressively a greater intelligence. And the percentage of intelligence that is not human is increasing and eventually we will represent a very small percentage of intelligence.” 

Musk says that things are getting more and more connected and at this point they are constrained by bandwidth.

“Images are the way to communicate at high bandwidth, said Musk. “You take pictures and send pictures. That communicates far more information than with your thumbs.”