The billionaire, known for garnering a massive amount of wealth and attention with his revolutionary projects of PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX, has consistently warned against AI, recently calling it humanity’s greatest existential threat.
His belief of the detriment AI may cause has led him to pool forces with other well-known tech entrepreneurs to establish an investment fund intended for researchers to pursue actions with a positive social impact. The $1 billion fund is slated to assist humans in staying at least one step ahead of technology.
According to a statement released by the group of investors, AI’s surprising history makes it difficult to “predict when human-level AI might come within reach.” The statement continued on to advise, “When it does, it’ll be important to have a leading research institution which can prioritize a good outcome for all over its own self-interest.”
The debate within the technology world over the threats and benefits provided by rapid advances in computer intelligence is a long-standing one, with questions of whether or not legislation should be implemented to act as safeguards. A total moratorium on research has been contested as well, particularly as the scientific and technology worlds are arguably capable of advancing to the point of superseding humans. It is a very likely possibility that we may become redundant, unnecessary, and, thus, expendable.
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Scientists postulate that eventually AI systems will be able to intercommunicate exclusively among themselves, controlling entire transport networks and even national economies.
Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking told the BBC last year that technology could very well spell doom for the entire human race, warning of a type of system so advanced it could “re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate,” thus outpacing human improvements exponentially.
At a recent symposium held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Musk spoke of the dangers of AI, stating that “we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence. With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.”
PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, along with tech giant Infosys and Amazon Web Services, have contributed to the startup of OpenAI. The non-profit will work towards researching novel uses of AI and share the findings; with access to this knowledge, the idea is to guarantee that someone is examining the pros and cons sans the financial restraints imposed by the research and development departments of conglomerates like Google and IBM.
According to OpenAI’s website, freedom from financial obligations allows for a “better focus on a positive human impact…AI should be an extension of individual human wills and, in the spirit of liberty, as broadly and evenly distributed as is possible safely.”
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