Billionaire Elon Musk and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking are amongst the prestigious names who have signed an open letter on the Future of Life Institute’s website which calls for researchers to continue working on artificial intelligence while “avoiding potential pitfalls” such as an I, Robot or Terminator-esque scenario in which robots rise up to kill humans. Both Musk and Hawking have previously warned of the dangers of technology leading to the demise of humans in such a scenario.
The Future of Life Institute (FLI) reported that the 43-year-old creator of Tesla and SpaceX, Mr. Musk, pledged to donate $10 million to FLI to run a global research program directed towards “keeping AI beneficial to humanity.” Musk’s tweet about his donation towards artificial intelligence safety on January 15, 2015 received over 700 retweets and more than 800 favorites.
Funding research on artificial intelligence safety. It's all fun & games until someone loses an I http://t.co/t1aGnrTU21
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 15, 2015
The Future of Life Institute aims to “mitigate existential risks facing humanity,” Forbes reported. Activists such as the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots share the fear that humanity has started down a path of developing an AI which will turn on humans. The report cited the MBDA’s fire-and-forget Brimstone missiles as an example of a computerized weapons system which is capable of identifying and attacking targets after launch without any further human interaction.
In regards to Musk’s $10 million donation, FLI co-founder Anthony Aguirre indicated that the donation would “make a major impact,” Engadget reported.
This donation will make a major impact […] While heavy industry and government investment has finally brought AI from niche academic research to early forms of a potentially world-transforming technology, to date relatively little funding has been available to help ensure that this change is actually a net positive one for humanity.
The United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons is scheduled to host its second meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems in Geneva in April of 2015.
Mashable reported that the fear surrounding artificial intelligence is either a preemptive extinction plan, prudent stance on a possible future, or smart people buying into science fiction. They went on to say that regardless of why people are afraid, the movement “is increasingly gaining traction among those with credentials to back up the distress.” The report cited the open letter on FLI signed by Musk and Hawking.
Musk’s SpaceX recently launched a Falcon 9 rocket, delivering a Dragon cargo capsule into orbit before attempting to land back on Earth, where it had a hard landing.
What do you think of Elon Musk’s multimillion dollar donation to help keep the world safe from the “pitfalls” of artificial intelligence?