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Still from 'Ex Machina'
Still from 'Ex Machina'

Elon Musk warns that AI is an ‘existential risk’

The SpaceX founder has seen some scary shit, and he isn’t holding back

Elon Musk, Tesla inventor and keyholder of the future, has warned that artificial intelligence is an “existential risk” to humanity. Musk has seen the future, saying he has access to some of the most advanced technology available, and it’s not exactly pretty. Speaking to the National Governors Association in Rhode Island, the inventor talked about all of his different endeavors, including plans for space travel, before Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada asked about AI taking over people’s jobs in the future.

Musk replied: “AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization, and I don’t think people fully appreciate that.” Though he admitted that AI will “do everything better than us”, he wasn’t so warm to the idea that countless jobs would be taken over by Robin Williams’ character in Bicentennial Man (1999). “I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it's too late,” he warned.

He’s been trying to hammer home his point for some time. In 2014, the 46-year-old told a group of students at MIT, “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful.” While he didn’t expand upon the artificial robo-creeps he’s seen, we can only guess based on weird projects like this discomfiting robot-staffed hotel in Japan.

“Once there is awareness, people will be extremely afraid,” Musk added. “As they should be”. His warning makes us feel a bit: