Feeds

HUMAN RACE PERIL: Not nukes, it'll be AI that kills us off, warns Musk

SpaceX supremo warns 'we need to be super careful' after pumping $40m into it

The next step in data security

Multibillionaire tech ace Elon Musk has a bee in his bonnet about the threat to humanity from ... artificial intelligence. And since he's a major investor in the technology, he ought to know.

Musk's fears, as he suggests in other book recommendations, are that once mankind invents a working AI system, the computers may well decide we're surplus to requirements – and dump us faster than a corporate getting rid of a legacy POTS exchange.

The idea is much beloved by speculative fiction writers and some serious technologists, in terms of predicting doom and those who take the opposite view – such as Iain M. Banks who suggested in Culture that sentient computers would look after their creators and let them lead cosseted existences.

Musk's comments are slightly concerning, however, given he is directly involved in the machine intelligence business. In March, the SpaceX and Tesla supremo, along with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, pumped $40m into AI software firm Vicarious – which is seeking to virtualize the neocortex of a human brain so that computers can develop their own intelligence.

Like Jeff Hawkins' own neocortex-like software, Vicarious's designs are strikingly different to classic neural network models of the brain.

In his book Singularity is near, futurologist Ray Kurzweil estimates that, by 2045, an AI whose intelligence outstrips its human creators will emerge as a result of breakthroughs in the way we implement powerful digital grey matter.

Musk is in a position to know what's going on based on his close involvement in the scene. Maybe it's time to take a leaf out of William Gibson's 30-year-old AI masterpiece Neuromancer and create a Turing police who would drop a digital nine in the dome of any potential AI system. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Stray positrons caught on ISS hint at DARK MATTER source
Landlubber scope-gazers squint to horizons and see anti-electron count surge
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.