"We’re summoning the demon": Elon Musk warns about artificial intelligence

Musk spoke at MIT's AeroAstro Centennial Symposium, and thinks we should be "very careful" about AI

By Sarah Gray

Published October 27, 2014 4:08PM (EDT)

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors        (AP/Mark Lennihan)
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors (AP/Mark Lennihan)

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla, participated in an engaging Q&A last week at MIT's AeroAstro Centennial Symposium.

Musk discussed a wide range of topics including the engineering of SpaceX crafts (the development of a reusable rocket booster), how SpaceX has become such an innovative competitor, Mars exploration, and the development of artificial intelligence.

On the topic of AI, Musk issued a warning and strongly suggested that there must be strict regulations on this potential development. Musk's full answer is below, and can be watched at the 1 hour and 7 minute mark on a video of the interview via Erik Bjäreholt:

"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 with artificial intelligence.

"I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. I mean with artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon. You know 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? Doesn’t work out. [audience laughs]" 

h/t TechCrunch

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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