SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been making headlines recently for his rather dire predictions regarding the future of artificial intelligence. The tech mogul fears that AI may advance to the point where it could turn on its human "handlers" and could even spark World War III if left unchecked.
However, Google search and AI chief John Giannandrea feels that Musk's apprehension and warnings about doomsday scenarios are way overblown. While speaking at the Disrupt conference in San Francisco this week, Giannandrea shot down Musk's proclamations while not actually invoking his name (although we all knew who he was talking about).
Google's John Giannandrea
"There’s a huge amount of unwarranted hype around AI right now," said Giannandrea. "This leap into, ‘Somebody is going to produce a superhuman intelligence and then there’s going to be all these ethical issues’ is unwarranted and borderline irresponsible."
He went on to add that Google has gone to great lengths to ensure that there are safety and ethical protocols built into its AI technology to make sure that it doesn't go rogue. In essence, modern AI is about as harmless as an ankle biter. “There’s a lot of people that are unreasonably concerned around the rise of general AI," he continued. “They’re not nearly as general purpose as a 4-year-old child."
In a final dig at Musk, Giannandrea added, “I’m definitely not worried about the AI apocalypse. I just object to the hype and soundbites that some people are making.”
SpaceX/Tesla CEO Elon Musk
We should note that this line for reasoning aligns with comments made by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "I have pretty strong opinions on this ... I think you can build things and the world gets better, and with AI especially, I’m really optimistic," said Zuckerberg in July. "I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios are—I just, I don't understand it. It's really negative and in some ways, I think it is pretty irresponsible," Those comments prompted Musk to fire back, saying that Zuckerberg's knowledge of the subject was "limited".
Giannandrea's commentary comes just weeks after Elon Musk took to Twitter to unload on the perils of a future where AI becomes more pervasive in our society:
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
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
Back in August, Musk made his concerns known to the United Nations, and warned about killer robots terrorizing people across the globe:
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.
It's too early to see which side has the correct "world view" of how AI will impact our lives in the future, but it sure is fun to kick back and watch these brilliant minds bicker about technology.
Top image sourced from TechCrunch/flickr