Elon Musk Warns That Artificial Intelligence Digital Arms Race Could Spark World War III
Musk often uses Twitter as a means to let his myriad of thoughts flow out to the general populous, and those thoughts were on clear display this morning. “China, Russia, soon all countries w strong computer science,” Musk warned. “Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo.”
China, Russia, soon all countries w strong computer science. Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 4, 2017
Musk went on to elaborate about a scenario straight out of the classic 1983 flick WarGames:
May be initiated not by the country leaders, but one of the AI's, if it decides that a prepemptive strike is most probable path to victory— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 4, 2017
That’s nothing new coming from Musk, but many were quick to point out that his tweets seemed like a telling response to comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a recent talk with students via a satellite broadcast, Putin extolled the potential of AI and the digital arms race that will follow.
"Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind,” said Putin. “It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”
But in case you are picturing a shirtless Putin on horseback with his pinky finger in his mouth, he shifted his tone slightly, striking a less ominous approach. "If we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with entire world, the same way we share our nuclear technologies today."
Well, that’s good to know… we think…
Earlier this month, Musk expressed his concerns about killer AI-powered robots to the United Nations, stating:
Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.
In July, Musk got into a war of words with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, questioning his ability to comprehend the dangers of AI. “I've talked to Mark about this,” explained Musk. “His understanding of the subject is limited.” More recently, Musk stated that AI is more of an immediate threat that North Korea.
First image courtesy Maurizio Pesce/flickr. Second image courtesy Heisenberg Media/flickr.