Elon Musk is undoubtedly one of the most prominent and exciting futurists out there at the moment, but it's not stopped him from nervously looking over his shoulder for a robot uprising.
With his Hyperloop project, he plans on hurtling us through tubes at hundreds of miles per hour. With Neuralink, he plans to implant brain-computer interfaces into our heads. And with SpaceX, he plans to make domestic space travel commonplace.
While all of these projects sound suspiciously sci-fi, he seems to be making progress. So when he says that something is dangerous, it’s probably worth paying attention.
Speaking in Rhode Island, USA, at the US Governors Association, Musk warned that regulation of AI must happen before it is needed, not after: “Normally the way regulations are set up is when a bunch of bad things happen, there’s a public outcry, and after many years a regulatory agency is set up to regulate that industry”.
Stopping the rise of Skynet
“AI is the rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive,” Musk continued: “Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’ll be too late. AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilisation.”
If this all sounds familiar, it’s not just because it’s the plot of The Terminator. Musk has been warning about the existential threat that AI poses for many years. He even invested in AI so that he could help steer the development of AI to "benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return".
This time, he was speaking to 32 governors, who potentially have the power to influence the regulatory requirements of the field. With Google's DeepMind project now learning in a way that makes it more efficient than a human, it may be that we are on the verge of the proactive/reactive timeframe already.
- Want some more AI news? Check out: AI fly-by: artificial intelligence is mapping the brains of flies
Via The Guardian