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Originally published October 26 2014

Elon Musk warns AI could wipe out humanity

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Humanity's quest to outsmart the Creator by developing robots of a higher and more adaptable level of intelligence could prove disastrous for the survival of our species, says Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.

Speaking at Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit in San Francisco, Musk told Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson that artificial intelligence (AI), at least as it is currently advancing, threatens to destroy human life by making robots inherently smarter and more intuitive.

A vocal proponent of AI technology, Isaacson wrote in a recent Aspen Journal of Ideas piece that today's biggest innovations are coming from efforts that combine human inspiration with computer processing -- this is the essence of AI.

"Decade after decade, new waves of experts have claimed the imminent arrival of artificial intelligence, perhaps even a 'singularity' when computers aren't only smarter than humans but also can design themselves to be even supersmarter, and will thus no longer need us mere mortals," wrote Isaacson.

It is this seemingly sci-fi concept that Musk worries will spell the undoing of humanity, as technologists dive headfirst into a brave new world controlled by machines that possess an advanced and ever-evolving level of intelligence.

"I don't think anyone realizes how quickly artificial intelligence is advancing," warned Musk at the meeting. "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."

"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...," he trailed off, to the resounding laughter of an amused crowd.

Will advancing AI breed Terminator-like killing machines?

While AI has long earned a top spot in the list of budding technological advancements that are always just a few decades off, it seems that some major AI breakthroughs are imminent. Several recent reports explain that quantum AI, which incorporates quantum mechanics with AI technology, is already being used to help robots and computers "learn" how to respond intuitively to external stimuli.

"In the case of very demanding and 'impatient' environments, the outcome is that the quantum robot can adapt itself and survive, while the classic robot is destined to collapse," wrote G. Davide Paparo and Miguel A. Martin-Delgado, two researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) in Spain in a study explaining how quantum tools are being used to advance AI progress.

"The advances [quantum AI] brings are not only quantitative in terms of greater speed, but also qualitative: adapting better to environments where the classic agent does not survive. This means that quantum robots are more creative."

In Musk's view, the potential for robots designed in this way to turn evil is great, potentially resembling the Terminator robot from the popular Arnold Schwarzenegger movies that deviated from what its creators intended.

"In the movie 'Terminator,' they didn't create AI to -- they didn't expect, you know, some sort of Terminator-like outcome," added Musk. "It is sort of like the Monty Python thing. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition."

Despite his concerns, Musk is one of the investors backing a Silicon Valley startup known as Vicarious, which is all about developing and promoting AI. According to Business Insider, the company remains largely secretive about its projects but is known to be actively working on advanced AI technologies.

"My goals have always been to embody the computational principles of the brain in a mathematical model," stated neuroscientist Dileep George, one of Vicarious' founders, in a 2012 interview with KurzweilAI, which actively monitors and forecasts what it describes as "accelerating change."


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