Speaking to the National Governors Association, Tesla CEO Elon Musk warned U.S. governors that “[artificial intelligence] poses a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization.”
The association’s summer meeting took place on Saturday in Rhode Island, where Musk was posed the question of whether or not robots would replace American jobs within the next few decades and whether Americans should be worried. Watch Musk’s response below (queued at 48 minutes in):
“I have exposure to the very cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned about it. I keep sounding the alarm bell, but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal.”
The area of artificial intelligence, Musk said, is a rare area of industry where he believes proactive regulation is needed, rather than reactive:
“AI is a rare case where we need to be proactive about regulation instead of reactive. Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’s too late.”
Musk said more than once that developments the technology sector is on the precipice of making should not be taken lightly.
“AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization, in a way that car accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs, or bad food were not. They were harmful to a set of individuals within society, of course, but they were not harmful to society as a whole. AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization and I don’t think people fully appreciate that.”
In May of this year, Google’s artificial intelligence project AlphaGo beat Ke Jie, the world champion of Go. Go is an ancient board game considered to be infinitely more complicated than chess. After being beaten by half a point, Jie said, “I feel like his game is more and more like the ‘Go god’. Really, it is brilliant.”
Those like Elon Musk will continue to sound the alarm about potential dangers of rapidly developing AI technology. How will this inevitable explosion in automation technology effect the workforce ten years down the road? Could an algorithm possibly be able to do your job better than you can? It will be up to America’s citizens, her workforce, and her younger generations to be prepared for the technological changes that are sure to come.