Elon Musk: Luddite?

Elon Musk: Luddite?

By Denis Pombriant

Jul 24, 2017 4:55 PM PT

It’s hard to believe that the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX could have such reactionary views about artificial intelligence. Elon Musk last weekend had some very un-Musk-like things to say about AI when he addressed the U.S. National Governors Association meeting in Providence, Rhode Island.

“AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization, and I don’t think people fully appreciate that,” Musk said.

He even suggested that government ought to regulate the nascent industry — but it’s hard to regulate that which isn’t yet formed. It’s reminiscent of what happened when the George W. Bush administration decided to restrict stem cell research. The regulation didn’t work because the research simply moved to more friendly jurisdictions.

It harkens back to the warning of Jurassic Park character Dr. Malcolm — that life always finds a workaround. AI will be no different, so we need to embrace it and work with it.

What’s striking is that those pronouncements came from the man who reinvented the space program as a for-profit industry, and who also took the electric car to the edge of technological capability and then busted through all barriers.

In both cases, something new and good resulted. In space, Musk’s company this year demonstrated lift capacity to launch 10 satellites at once and return its booster rocket to Earth for an upright landing.

His other company’s cars, though expensive, gradually have been reaching the general marketplace, and there is a multibillion dollar waiting list for the next model.

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