Appearing in an interview with Axios on HBO, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, dove into one of his favorite topics: How artificial intelligence (AI) threatens humanity. As Rob Atkinson writes for Fox Business, Musk gets attention for these kinds of outlandish statements because he is a successful and swashbuckling technology entrepreneur. But his expertise is in engineering, not computer science. Computer scientists who actually build and study AI have a completely different view.
Make no mistake: AI promises enormous benefits to society. Already, AI is the secret sauce in the self-driving cars that Google and Tesla are testing. It’s in our smartphones, powering services such as Siri, Google Now, Alexa, and Cortana, which interpret our speech to give us timely answers to everyday questions. Search engines like Google use artificial intelligence to generate search results and translate languages in real time. AI is being used for medical diagnoses. And these are only the beginning if we don’t give in to unwarranted paranoia.
It’s time to recognize Elon Musk for what he is: a great promoter of Elon Musk. He is not an expert on the future of artificial intelligence. This should be clear, because anyone who seriously thinks that we could be like Neo living in the Matrix (“maybe we’re in a simulation,” he suggested to Axios) is not someone who should be taken seriously about our technological future.