Artificial intelligence, or A.I., is a dream for some software engineers and a nightmare for others. Elon Musk had some cautionary words on the topic whe he spoke at the MIT AeroAstro Centennial Symposium. The founder of Space X (and other fun stuff that helped inspire Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man) thinks that we could be summoning the demon with artificial intelligence.”I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence,” he said. “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. 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.”
Musk is talking about very advanced computing systems; in comparison, 2001: A Space Odyssey is easy. “HAL 9000 would be easy. It’s way more complex… it’d put HAL9000 to shame. That’s like a puppy dog.” And just to be clear, we don’t advise spraying your computer with water to stop demons ascending from the mainframe. It probably isn’t very good for the machine.