Elon Musk artificial intelligence World War III

Screengrab via National Geographic/YouTube

Elon Musk tweets out terrifying warning, says AI could lead to World War III



Josh Katzowitz


Posted on Sep 4, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 6:31 pm CDT

Elon Musk has been sounding the warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence for several years, but on Monday, the Tesla CEO made a startling new prediction.

Citing a story from the Verge in which Russia President Vladimir Putin said that the country leading the way in artificial intelligence will become the “ruler of the world,” Musk tweeted the following.

It’s an interesting (and terrifying) thought that comes two days after North Korea conducted a powerful nuclear test that reportedly read a 6.3 on the Richter scale and led President Donald Trump to lash out on Twitter and threaten the countries that trade with the rogue nation.

Some observers say it’s unlikely North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would use a nuclear weapon, because he rationally understands that doing so would end his nation. Musk’s thought, though, is that AI wouldn’t necessarily make the same determination.

Musk has not been shy about speaking about the potential dangers of AI. In 2014, he said, “I’m increasingly inclined to think there should be some regulatory oversight at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. You know, in all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, and he’s like yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Didn’t work out.”

In July, he spoke to a group of Democratic and Republican governors and asked them to begin making preemptive regulations and restrictions on AI because of the possibility of the widespread dissemination of fake news.

“AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization, in a way that car accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs, or bad food were not,” Musk said during the summer.

In August, Musk, along with 115 other leading AI experts, signed a petition sent to the United Nations that asked for a ban on so-called “killer robots.”

“Once developed, [autonomous weapons] will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend,” the letter said. “These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.”

Now, though, Musk is warning about World War III. Even though Putin cautioned Friday about the use of AI, he also discussed the opportunities associated with the new technology.

“Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind,” Putin said, via RT. “It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

As the Verge notes, the U.S. and China are currently the leaders in AI research, though China has made it clear that it wants to be the nation that leads the way.

H/T Business Insider

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*First Published: Sep 4, 2017, 11:16 am CDT