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Elon Musk & Mark Zuckerberg argue over killer robots and AI

Is tech really going to be the end of humanity, or is this irresponsible scare-mongering? The world’s nerdiest fight rages on

On the ravaged battleground of tech billionaires, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are trading barbs over artificial intelligence.

Last week, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Musk, told the National Governors Association that he was worried about the “fundamental risk to the existence of civilisation” that was posed without the active regulation of AI.

As the Guardian reports, Musk has previously warned that humans could become dominated in the future by AI, following a robot revolution a la Terminator. Cool? Maybe this is what we deserve tbh.

“I have exposure to the very cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned about it,” Musk told the governors. “I keep sounding the alarm bell, but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal.”

Facebook founder Zuckerberg has now entered the arena to condemn Musk’s words as “pretty irresponsible”. Speaking to users in a Q+A session on Facebook Live, he was asked directly about Musk’s fear: “What are your thoughts on AI and how could it affect the world?”

“I have pretty strong opinions on this. I am optimistic,” he said candidly. “And I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios – I just, I don’t understand it. It’s really negative and in some ways I actually think it is pretty irresponsible.”

He told viewers that AI could help save lives, rather than destroy the human race in a bloody, metallic apocalypse.

“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,” he said.

As the world’s geekiest fight continued, Musk then responded on Twitter: “I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.”

Zuckerberg and Musk have sparred before: last year, Musk’s SpaceX satellite exploded and destroyed Facebook’s AMOS-6 satellite, intended to deliver internet connection to rural regions of Africa. The Zuck was not happy, writing on Facebook that he was “deeply disappointed” in the “failure”.

Facebook has been forging a path with AI, with the likes of DeepLearning and DeepText to analyse data, facial recognition, open source AI and programs to spot suicidal users.

From what we’ve seen of AI so far and its potential ability to smite us, it’s a mixed bag. A robot just last week drowned itself, but another AI project has seen two different machines create and converse in their own new language. Otherwise, there’s moves towards near-sentient sex robots, hotel staffers, chess champion robots and a questionable AI inspirational memer.