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Why did Facebook, SpaceX, and Ashton Kutcher all invest in this company?
They’re investing millions in an artificial intelligence company to replicate the neocortex.
It seems like a hubristic disaster idea to create an artificial brain to insert into computers that is so sophisticated it turns into “a computer that thinks like a person.” Unfortunately, three extremely rich tech pioneers have apparently never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, founder of many things Elon Musk, and not-finder of cars Ashton Kutcher are among the funders giving $40 million in investment money to a company called Vicarious FPC, which aims to replicate the neocortex with computer code. According to the Wall Street Journal, Vicarious cofounder Scott Phoenix eventually wants these incredibly smart robot-brain computers to cure diseases, come up with an affordable renewable energy source, and “perform the jobs that employ most human beings.”
“[Y]ou have a computer that thinks like a person,” Phoenix told the Wall Street Journal. “Except it doesn’t have to eat or sleep.”
Not addressed: What everyone is going to do once the computers steal said jobs.
Zuckerberg and Musk are men who have built digital dynasties and who continue to push forward with expensive pet projects. Zuck wants to invest $60 million a fleet of drones to bring Internet access to developing nations. Musk wants to build a greenhouse on Mars. And Kutcher obviously isn’t in their league. but he convinced Mila Kunis to be his partner, so he’s obviously capable of dreaming big.
At least we’ll know who’s responsible for the forthcoming robot apocalypse.
Kate Knibbs is a notable tech reporter and pop culture essayist. A former staff writer for the Daily Dot, her work has appeared in Gizmodo, the Ringer, AV Club, Digital Trends, Popular Mechanics, and Time.