This summer has seen tensions rise between two of the tech industries foremost figures regarding the significance of artificial intelligence. Elon Musk, CEO of innovative automotive giants Tesla, seen his somewhat bleak view of AI challenged by the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg.
But who was right? And will AI inevitably kill us?
Arguing over the Artificial
Mark Zuckerberg, Social media mogul, has recently dedicated a division of his company to figuring out new ways of incorporating AI into their products and, in light of Facebook’s recent documentation of the cutting-edge technology and the appointment of cognitive technology pioneer Yann LeCun as chief AI researcher, it hardly comes as a surprise that Zuckerberg shares the optimism of many when it comes to the subject.
Conversely, the Tesla CEO and staunch AI-sceptic Elon Musk called for the regulation of cognitive modelling, arguing that developments in the field of artificial intelligence could potentially be “the greatest risk we face as a civilisation”. In recent tweets, Musk has even gone as far as saying that the Facebook Chair has a rudimentary knowledge of the subject and its’ implications.
The highly divisive debate has opened up a whole raft of questions on the matter.
Though Musk has been warning of the dangers of AI for years, the debate between him and Zuckerberg only began in July 2017 after the automotive innovator spoke out against the unethical use of cognitive simulation at a meeting for the US National Governors Association. It is Musk’s belief that Artificial Intelligence could spark a doomsday scenario in the wrong hands, using war profiteering on the behalf of arms dealers and their benefactors as his primary example.
On the contrary, Zuckerberg believes the statements made by the Tesla Chief to be ‘irresponsible’, positing that the progress being made within artificial intelligence will greatly increase the standard of living for the majority.
As well as stating that healthcare and other facets of daily life would improve at a faster rate without the restriction of government regulation, the tech luminary ironically asserted that self-driving cars would benefit further advancement of AI too citing during an uncharacteristically candid Facebook Live broadcast, “One of the top causes of death for people is car accidents, still, and if you can eliminate that with AI, that is going to be just a dramatic improvement”.
Self-driving cars are currently being trialed by Tesla, the business where Elon Musk is CEO.
The Wider Debate
It appears that both Musk and Zuckerberg have a following who share their sentiments and neither argument can be entirely dismissed.
Professor Stephen Hawking has been critical of AI stating that, ”the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”. German film director Werner Herzog also made a documentary entitled ‘Lo and Behold’ which examined how technology continues to affect modern society. The film featured a plethora of authorities from the digital world including Musk and seemed to mirror a lot of the Tesla CEOs concerns about the law surrounding technologies.
However, Pedro Domingos, a leading professor of machine learning at University of Washington has recently spoken out in condemnation of Musk’s critique. After the spat between the tech billionaires became public, Domingos told Wired “many of us have tried to educate him and others like him about real vs. imaginary dangers of AI, but apparently none of it has made a dent”.
Nonetheless, both parties make valid points as AI will undoubtedly transform our lives for the better, and for that reason it’s only logical that we consider regulating this technology to protect its’ users and the world at large. Artificial intelligence is the most transformative and disruptive tech that we’ve seen in decades and the full extent of its’ impact will only become clearer as it’s further integrated with human life.
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