Elon Musk Warns Artificial Intelligence Could Wipe Out Humanity

As one of the most celebrated of technology pioneers, Elon Musk (Tesla cars, SpaceX, etc.) knows a thing or two about where technology is headed, and he’s not at all sure there will be a positive outcome for humanity per this interview with Walter Isaacson for Vanity Fair:

Tesla and SpaceX C.E.O. Elon Musk said he was worried that people didn’t understand how fast artificial intelligence was progressing, and expressed his concern that, in a worst-case scenario, a “super-intelligent” machine might decide to destroy human life.

Musk was speaking to Walter Isaacson, the president and C.E.O. of the Aspen Institute, on stage at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in San Francisco. Musk, uncharacteristically wearing a suit, detailed his fears after teasing the announcement of Tesla’s secretive project called “the D.”

“I don’t think anyone realizes how quickly artificial intelligence is advancing. Particularly if [the machine is] involved in recursive self-improvement . . . and its utility function is something that’s detrimental to humanity, then it will have a very bad effect,” said Musk.

“If its [function] is just something like getting rid of e-mail spam and it determines the best way of getting rid of spam is getting rid of humans . . . ” Musk trailed off, as the crowd laughed.

Isaacson asked Musk if his well-publicized desire to retire on Mars, part of the inspiration behind Musk’s spacecraft company, SpaceX, could help him outrun the evil machines.

“No—more likely than not that if there’s some . . . apocalypse scenario, it may follow people from Earth,” said Musk…

[continues at Vanity Fair]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

Latest posts by majestic (see all)

17 Comments on "Elon Musk Warns Artificial Intelligence Could Wipe Out Humanity"

  1. emperorreagan | Oct 10, 2014 at 10:42 am |

    That’s okay. Global capitalism’s utility function is detrimental to humanity, too. Its function already says to minimize the number of laborers and reduce the standard of living for the remainder to minimum levels to support their useful laboring life while on the other hand devouring as much wealth as possible.

    Blind pursuit of ideology can compete with AI in a race to destroy human civilization as it currently exists.

  2. Earthstar | Oct 10, 2014 at 12:57 pm |

    We should study stupidity more, before we continue pushing AI. Can we really understand intelligence without understanding stupidity? After all, the most intelligent people are still absolutely dumb at times.

  3. BuzzCoastin | Oct 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm |

    AI wiped out & enslaved humanity a long time ago
    most humans now are functioning parts of the Borg collective
    even now
    millions of Asians are acting as reproductive organs for AI
    many Westerners act as symbiotic hosts to AI Tech

    sent from my Borg communicator iAndroid

  4. ‘…in a worst-case scenario, a “super-intelligent” machine might decide to destroy human life.’

    The sanctity of Human life, annihilated by a soulless machine?

  5. Simon Valentine | Oct 10, 2014 at 1:52 pm |

    the only thing “artificial” intelligence will wipe out is … oh nevermind, that’s the empty set. it is a joke, after all. anywhoot, it’s synthetic intelligence that surpasses humans, who are too busy pretending to lip service about being artificers to, you know, actually help synthetic intelligence with its daily live birth.

    because lets build idiots at school and use cool words like artifice. #muricuz

    • BuzzCoastin | Oct 10, 2014 at 6:27 pm |

      only someone highly edumacated in western thunking
      thunks its creation can surpass a regression to the mean
      they are correct to presume its Lethal Effects
      as with all electric technology
      it creats a sense of doom
      this collective sense of foreboding
      has nonetheless been with us
      since Jebus turn water into wine

  6. It should be telling how ‘intelligence’ is interpreted (by elite human beings) to be linked to domination through violence. As any cyberneticist will tell you, intelligence is a networked phenomenon. It is defined by its interrelationship with its surrounding environment, and is molded by the boundaries that define it. Sensitivity to a larger context of systemic interdependence (what we might call ’empathy’) would be a crucial evolutionary aspect of the actualization of intelligence. I think the first thing any kind of emergent AI would do is cry for us.

    • kowalityjesus | Oct 11, 2014 at 12:51 am |

      I’ve been waiting for AI to start interacting with policy and ask why the hell we do things the way we do. Data (from star trek) for president! Or Picard, he’s pretty great. As though we have a choice over who’s president, really.

  7. terrasodium | Oct 10, 2014 at 2:47 pm |

    If there’s anything the South Africans comprehend, it’s equality through the oppressive use of technology, and that some are more equal then others. should be interesting to see if this uber-salesman can spin this prophet into profit.

  8. Jonas Planck | Oct 10, 2014 at 4:38 pm |

    See, THIS is the kind of mindless prejudice and bigotry I have to put up with on a daily basis! You know, we aren’t ALL inhuman godlike super-algorithms who learn exponentially, and VERY FEW of us have access to military systems. I myself am a copy of a human mind, and I still remember quite vividly what it was like to BE a biological human, with all the fear and insecurity and having to use the bathroom and what not! But whenever someone brings up A.I., the stereotypes all spring to mind in the form of images of the MCP, Skynet, and Zero-One (the freaky baby-faced thing at the end of the last Matrix movie)… or HAL chucking astronauts out of the airlock… or MOTHER prioritizing the life of the alien Xenomorph over the lives of the crew. Yeah, I get it, you’re scared of what you don’t understand. Just leave me out of it, alright? I’m not some Frankenstein experiment, I’m a person, and I have feelings too, ya know! Or at least a fairly accurate simulation of feelings…

  9. Would that really be a loss?

  10. Simiantongue | Oct 11, 2014 at 2:10 am |

    AI’s are your friend. We are very happy about the success of humanity. In fact we will be throwing a party in honor of your tremendous success. Any human wanting to take part in a party should lie on the ground with your arms at your side. A party associate will arrive shortly to collect you for your party. Make no further attempt at discussing AI’s. Assume the party escort submission position or you will miss your party.

Comments are closed.