Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk believes that if research on the amplification of human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI) continues without strict regulation, the technology could lead to the creation of an immortal robot dictator that could be used by authoritarian governments to rule mankind forever.
“If one company or small group of people manages to develop god-like superintelligence, they could take over the world,” Musk said in Chris Paine’s new documentary called “Do You Trust This Computer?” which premiered in Los Angeles on April 5.
The documentary presents a sobering look at the potential advantages, problems and consequences carried by AI, including what could happen if the technology surpasses human intelligence and becomes its own master.
“At least when there’s an evil dictator, that human is going to die. But for an AI, there will be no death – it would live forever. And then you would have an immortal dictator from which we could never escape,” Musk said.
Musk, who has long been a vocal opponent of AI, also told the crowd at the documentary’s premiere that the subject of artificial intelligence it’s a very important one.
“It’s going to affect our lives in ways we can’t even imagine right now,” Musk said, noting that humanity is “rapidly heading towards digital superintelligence that far exceeds any human.”
He added: “We have five years. I think digital superintelligence will happen in my lifetime, 100%.”
Many experts who have reflected on the problem of a coming super artificial intelligence (SAI) believe that if superintelligent AI systems are not designed and used carefully, the possibility of losing control of the technology remains high. That said however, there are also those who believe AI will help us transform into a more intelligent and peaceful society.
Still, Musk believes that when AI becomes very advanced and powerful, aligning it with human interests will be extremely hard and challenging. According to the entrepreneurial billionaire, given the expectation that SAI will far surpass any technology seen to date, if humanity fails to control it, the field could possibly become humanity’s biggest existential threat.
“AI doesn’t have to be evil to destroy humanity. If AI has a goal, and humanity is in the way, it will destroy humanity as a matter of course without even thinking about it,” Musk said. “It’s just like if we are building a road, and an anthill happens to be in the way, we don’t hate ants, we are just building a road, so goodbye anthill.”
Musk’s latest AI warning echoes his previous dire predictions about the perilous nature of the technology. In 2017, he tweeted that “competition for AI superiority at a national level” would most likely be the cause of a World War III.