Are you or anyone else you know scared of robots taking over the world? It’s pretty daunting to think about artificial intelligence becoming smarter than their human counterparts, but it’s not likely going down as depicted in Hollywood movies such as Blade Runner and I, Robot. Still, Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk is warning that we need to put in regulation for AI before “it’s too late.”
At the Governors Association Summer Meeting in Rhode Island last weekend, Musk was the keynote speaker and discussed his companies and new technological advancements with them. When he was approached on the subject of artificial intelligence over 20 minutes into the discussion with Nevada governor Brian Sandoval, he didn’t hold back on his worries about it. He believes that regulation “needs to be proactive...instead of reactive.”
“Normally the way regulations are set up is a whole bunch of bad things happen, there’s public outcry, and after many years a regulatory agency is set up to regulate that industry. There’s a bunch of opposition from companies who don’t like being told what to do by regulators...it would take forever. That, in the past, has been bad but not something which represented a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization. AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.”
Along with the main two companies he’s currently CEO at, he’s also involved with other startups such as Neuralink. He believes in connecting the human brain with computers, and the company is behind creating devices to make that happen. Those with diseases involving the brain would benefit, but according to a CNN Money report, "it will be 8 to 10 years before" something like this is widely available.
When it comes to the brain, there are already a few devices that are used in special circumstances. Since 2015, experimental brain pacemakers have been used to treat those with Parkinson’s disease to help with their movements. Going beyond medical help, having these “brain-machine interfaces” from Neuralink could remove the need for how we communicate with people. Instead of cell phones, we’d go through a MindMeld network, which is another startup that was acquired by Cisco back in May.
Musk believes that learning how artificial intelligence works and potential issues would go a long way in terms of regulation. There’s also the concern of hacking, which ties into the self-driving feature with Tesla vehicles in the future. These are all issues that need to be addressed before they’re out in the public. The US Congress is looking at self-driving vehicle regulations to put in place by the end of this year.
While we should be cautious about the future and Musk delivers great points on why regulation needs to happen now, it’s something we can still embrace. Prior to the AI discussion, Musk discussed about how not having an autonomous car would “be the equivalent of someone today owning a horse.” However, if it all goes south and AI takes over Earth, Musk is continuing to work on that backup plan in Mars.