After his interview at MIT’s Centennial Symposium in 2014, technocrat-extraordinaire Elon Musk opened himself up to the audience for questions. One audience member asked for his thoughts on Artificial Intelligence, and that’s when Musk’s expression changed. He suddenly became very serious.
I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence. 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.
Musk then went on to warn us about AI, using some notably esoteric language to describe what he believes to be “our greatest existential threat”:
With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like, ‘Yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon.’ Doesn’t work out.
I believe that Musk chose his words very carefully. In other words, he might be right in the sense that you can’t “create” (artificial) intelligence but you can “summon” it.