Facebook head honcho Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk have been making headlines these past few days. They have been exchanging thoughts about artificial intelligence and its effects on humans and the possible fate of the human race. This is an important argument for all of us as it may deeply affect the way we live in the future.

The AI Conversation

Elon Musk has always been known as an AI sceptic. He has worries about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence and made an appeal for proactive regulations of AI. He stated that he has been exposed to the most cutting edge AI, and he thinks people should really be concerned about it. He believes artificial intelligence presents a risk to the existence of human civilization. Musk believes the general population are blind to the dangers of AI right now because robots and other AI systems seem new and “ethereal”.

On the other side we have Mark Zuckerberg who, while grilling brisket in his Palo Alto home, made a Facebook live broadcast responding to different questions from commentators. One question that he read out loud stated “I watched a recent interview with Elon Musk and his largest fear for the future was AI. What are your thoughts on AI and how it could affect the world?”

Zuckerberg responded and said that he thinks people who are naysayers and try to drum up doomsday scenarios don’t understand it. It’s really negative and in some ways, he thinks that it’s pretty irresponsible. His argument stems from the improvements we hope to see AI deliver to us in all aspects of life.

In a response, Musk tweeted this: “I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.”

“I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.”

Image credit: Daily Mail

Mark fought back by announcing that the Facebook AI Research team and researchers at Cornell and Tsinghua together won an award for their recent paper called “Densely Connected Convolutional Networks”.

As usual, there are two sides to this argument, and the general population has probably already chosen one or the other to side with. Elon Musk is the pessimist and Mark Zuckerberg is the optimist. Although Zuckerberg boasted of his AI team’s achievement, Facebook researchers actually shut down their AI after it developed its own language because English was too slow.

 

Musk’s focus across all of his past and present business ventures has been infrastructural innovation. From PayPal to SpaceX, Musk has his eyes on the future of the human race and how it can be bettered with the use of technology. You’d think a man like this would be open to AI if it could improve functions in day-to-day life and in big infrastructure projects. The fact that he is so dismissive of AI should make us pause. From Musk’s standpoint, the risks are simply too great.

Stephen Hawking and his take on Artificial Intelligence

Some may dismiss the warning of Musk as a joke. Yes, Musk and Zuckerberg are businessmen in the tech world, arguing about humanity’s future with AI. But if one of the smartest men in the world talks about artificial intelligence, people better listen. Why? Because he’s not a businessman that cares about personal branding.

British Theoretical Physicist, Professor Stephen Hawking has warned the creation of powerful artificial intelligence will be either the best or the probably the worst thing to happen to humanity. The professor said that the primitive forms of artificial intelligence created so far have been proven to be useful, but what he’s concerned about is the aftermath of creating something that can match or surpass human intelligence.

He stated that it may be possible that it would take off on its own and then re-design itself at a very fast rate. Humans limited by slow biological evolution will not be able to compete and would be superseded.

The professor is also quick to highlight the positive sides of artificial intelligence research. He said that the achievements cannot be predicted when the human mind is amplified by artificial intelligence, but using the tools of this revolutionary technology, humans may undo the damages done to the natural world by industrialization and eradicate poverty and disease.

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Jon specialises in research and content creation for content marketing campaigns. He’s worked on campaigns for some of Australia's largest brands including across Technology, Cloud Computing, Renewable energy and Corporate event management. He’s an avid scooterist and musician.