Science & Hi-Tech

Elon Musk thinks humans will have to merge with machines to overcome their ‘existential threat’

FILE - In this Thursday, June 14, 2018 file photo, Tesla CEO and founder of the Boring Company Elon Musk speaks at a news conference, in Chicago. On Tuesday, July 19, 2018, The Associated Press has found that stories circulating on the internet that Musk announced plans to leave Tesla to start a digital currency company are untrue. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)
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Elon Musk has sounded the warning alarm again regarding artificial intelligence, telling Axios that humans must merge with machines or risk becoming an endangered species.

Musk said that the goal of his new artificial intelligence company, Nueralink, is to help humanity “achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence and to achieve a democratization of intelligence such that it’s not monopolistically held by governments and large corporations.” In doing so, Musk thinks it could help even the playing field with digital intelligence, which he believes “will exceed biological intelligence by a substantial margin,” calling it “obvious.”

The 47-year-old tech exec added that humanity is way behind in understanding the fear of whether AI will destroy humanity, akin to “children in a playground.”

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He was asked if humans could be relegated to a lower status or on small pockets of the Earth due to the rise of machines, Musk did not hesitate to say yes. “When a species of primate, homo sapiens, became much smarter than other primates, it pushed all the other ones into a very small habitat,” Musk said. “So there are very few mountain gorillas and orangutans and chimpanzees — monkeys in general.”

Musk gave examples of artificial intelligence harming humanity, including asassin drones that could look for a person using the face ID chips in smartphones or even propaganda to “influence elections.”

“My faith in humanity has been a little shaken this year,” Musk said in the interview.

This is not the first time Musk has sounded the alarms on artificial intelligence.

In 2015, Musk, along with other luminaries including deceased physicist Stephen Hawking, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and a number of other professors, AI experts, robot makers and programmers, wrote an open letter that called for research to be done on how AI will affect society, both the potential benefits and pitfalls.

“We recommend expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial: our AI systems must do what we want them to do,” the letter states.

Last year, he called AI the “biggest risk we face as a civilization.” In a July 15, 2017 speech at the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Rhode Island, Musk said the government needs to proactively regulate AI before there is no turning back.

“Until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal,” he said in comments obtained by tech website Recode. “AI is a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive. Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’s too late.”

Musk added that regulation of AI needs to be done now because of the bureaucratic nature of it.

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“It [regulation] takes forever,” Musk said. “That, in the past, has been bad but not something which represented a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization. AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.”

In September 2017, Musk went even further, going so far as to say that AI could be the cause of World War III.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia




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