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Why Elon Musk Has Some Reservations With AI Development

AI development is a hot topic among engineers and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Everyone can benefit from this explosion, seeing manufacturers, communicators, managers and investors take their operation to the next level. With a push to make this technology mainstream and adapt it to their environment, there are others who are less inclined to jump into the trend with abandon.

Of all the famous figures that would likely be on the optimistic end of the AI development spectrum, Elon Musk would be at the top of many people’s list. Yet in 2014, the innovator would discuss AI development as an existential threat to the global community. Rather than extolling the virtues of this field, he would exercise a degree of caution over the subject, arguing that the rate of advancement will outpace the intelligence of the human race.

Musk’s interests with his SpaceX division sees ventures to Mars and out of space high on the agenda. This is the type of exploration through colonization that intrigues the creator. He has hired over 8,000 employees spanning almost two decades to make that project possible, pushing the boundaries and test the limitations for space travel. As a private aerospace engineering firm, SpaceX could be an entity that stands to gain as much as anyone from the development of AI technology.

Government intervention is where Musk believes AI development should be managed. Although he is an advocate for free market innovation, the man with a net worth exceeding $70 billion is of the opinion that a careful and calculated approach under government supervision will afford time for businesses and investors to get a grasp of the technology. There are challenges and conflicts of interest when it comes to private enterprises advising public institutions, especially with different administrations having unique priorities, but the Pretorian native believes this is the best space to rollout these tools.

Another component of AI development that requires further consideration from Musk is the commercialization of the technology. With the likes of Facebook and Google potentially coming in and owning many of these tools, there is a fear that AI won’t truly be democratized for the benefit of everyday communities. This has been an opinion echoed by other professors and engineers who want to ensure that the intelligence is leveraged for organic purposes and not simply for commercial gain.

What would support this cautious approach to AI development is the reactions of other peers and scientific luminaries in the field. The late Stephen Hawking would go as far to say that it could spell the end of the human race. Bill Gates would be less extreme in his pronouncements, admitting that these creations are equal part dangerous and exciting depending on the context.

If humanity can get it right with AI development, then there is an entire world of exciting innovations that will genuinely save lives and forge a path to success. Disease, famine, crime, corruption and other elements that plague society can be combated. This is where figures like Musk will always keep an open mind about the potential that lies with scientific advancement.

It will help to reduce human error, offer round the clock performance, engage repetitive tasks, take health and medicine to new heights and venture to new planets and solar systems that would not be possible without their intervention.

Those benefits should be weighed against the notes of caution from respected figures like Musk. Their knowledge and insight into this domain carries weight, giving them the opportunity to outline where the real risks are and what types of restrictions and checks should be implemented with these programs.


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