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Elon Musk: "Regulate AI Before it's Too Late"
17 July 2017, 03:52 | Justin Tyler
He uses it. He needs it.
The point of his meeting with USA governors was to reiterate his long-held argument that proactive regulation is needed to protect humanity from being outsmarted by computers, or "deep intelligence in the network" that can start wars by manipulating information, the Associated Pressreported.
Oddly for someone who drifts toward a libertarian bent, Musk suggested that the best remedy was regulation. Musk said, "AI is a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive".
"The way regulations are set up is that a whole bunch of bad things happen, there's a public outcry, and after many years a regulatory agency is set up to regulate that industry", Musk said.
Musk said AI poses as a "fundamental risk to the existence of human civilisation, in a way that vehicle accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs or bad food were not". Robots, he said, will be able to do everything better than us.
Specifically, Musk thinks that AI can potentially start a war via "fake news and spoofing email accounts and fake press releases, and just by manipulating information", which explains his fear of the technology. "Once there is awareness, people will be extremely afraid, as they should be".
In this light, Musk's comments are at least bringing some attention to an under-examined topic.
As ever, Musk is not talking about the sort of artificial intelligence that companies like Google, Uber, and Microsoft now use, but what is known as artificial general intelligence - some conscious, super-intelligent entity, like the sort you see in sci-fi movies.
Often, too, the law simply hasn't anticipated the sorts of behaviors and issues that technology has instigated.
But Musk fervently believes this is a real threat, not something isolated to the realms of science fiction.
The entrepreneur said state legislators should start by forming a regulatory committee, whose first task would be to develop a full understanding of AI.
But first, he asked for some governors to lift a different kind of regulation: state franchise dealership laws that ban the direct sale of his company's electric cars to consumers. Otherwise the [corporate] shareholders will be saying, 'Why aren't you developing AI faster? "Because your competitor is", he said.
Musk urged attending governors to establish a strong foundation of AI regulations before it is too late.
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