WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Musk has a point that an all controlling AI could become the embodiment of an immortal dictator, but hopefully it’s a vision that won’t come to pass.
By definition Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI), is a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that isn’t just smarter than a person, it’s an AI that’s smarter than the entire human race put together and recently Elon Musk has argued that unlike today where a dictators reign ends, or at least could end, when they die, an ASI could be used to create an “immortal dictator” that would rule our increasingly hyperconnected world until the end of time. And stepping this up a notch I’d suggest they could recruit tomorrow’s self-evolving robots, like this one, to keep us all in line. Yes, I’m equally good at painting out a vision of a dystopian future, and now for some cat photos…
In a documentary by American filmmaker Chris Paine, Musk said that the development of ASI by a company or other organisation could result in a form of AI that governs not just an individual country but the whole world. After all, despite efforts to the contrary the internet, for example, is still essentially both ubiquitous and stateless.
“The least scary future I can think of is one where we have at least democratised AI because if one company or small group of people manages to develop godlike digital superintelligence, they could take over the world,” Musk said, “at least when there’s an evil dictator, that human is going to die. But for an AI, there would be no death. It would live forever. And then you’d have an immortal dictator from which we can never escape.”
The documentary by Paine examines a number of examples of AI, including autonomous weapons, Wall Street technology and algorithms driving fake news. It also draws from cultural examples of AI, such as the 1999 film “The Matrix” and 2016 film “Ex Machina.”
Musk cited Google’s DeepMind as an example of a company looking to develop ASI and he wouldn’t be far wrong because last year they were the first organisation to publish an AI blueprint for Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), or an AI that in other words has all the cognitive merits and skills of a “regular human,” and achieving AGI will put us then firmly on the path to realising ASI.
In 2016, AlphaGo, a program developed by the company, beat champion Lee Se-dol at the board game Go. It was seen a major achievement in the development of AI, after IBM’s Deep Blue computer defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, and just a year or so later that same AI is now self-learning, while its siblings are now self-evolving and even spawning new “child” AI’s.
“The DeepMind system can win at any game. It can already beat all the original Atari games. It is super human; it plays all the games at super speed in less than a minute,” said Musk, who also recently said that AI poses the greatest threat to the internet as a whole.
“If AI has a goal and humanity just happens to be in the way, it will destroy humanity as a matter of course without even thinking about it. No hard feelings,” Musk said, “it’s just like, if we’re building a road and an anthill just happens to be in the way, we don’t hate ants, we’re just building a road, and so, goodbye anthill.”
Last year Musk also warned that the global race toward AI could result in a third world war, and he’s also suggested that the emerging technology could pose a greater risk to the world than a nuclear conflict with North Korea. However, critics could also say that all these doomsday predictions are wildly out of place, especially given the fact that Musk’s NeuraLink company is today busily burning its way through $100 million of his cash to create a variant of the “upgrade for your brain” Neural Lace, a direct Brain-to-Machine, or Brain-to-AI, interface that will one day let humans connect directly with these same said AI’s, something that another group of experts has already said could open the way for brain hacking and brain hijacking.
All that said though, and at least from my perspective, it’s important that we have these types of good versus bad debates now, because as history has shown us all too frequently, normally governments and law makers only have these types of debates when they’re either forced to, after something has happened, or too late when the horse has already bolted. Love his argument or loathe it, at least he’s putting across a point of view, and I for one don’t want him to be able to tell us all he told us so…