On Air Now
In Conversation With Steve Allen 9pm - 10pm
7 April 2018, 20:38
Elon Musk sounds like a cheap aftershave aimed at the teenage market: “cover yourself with the penetrating, insistent scent of Elon Musk and you will be beating the babes off with a stick. Requires no gym work. Also thins paint.”
But Elon Musk is not to be found on the shelves at Superdrug, he pops up wherever there is a leap forward in sci-fi-like technology.
He is the chap behind PayPal, the method by which you can confidently buy things online that you don't need with money you haven't got, without having your details stolen by a Russian bot army.
We liked that so much that he quickly amassed all the money in the world that hadn't been reserved for Bill Gates.
With that cash he invented solar panels that look like proper tiles and not some hideous roofing mistake that was left there by the builders. And he makes the most desirable electric cars, one of which he sent into space on his own rocket.
He has made one of the world's largest fortunes from computers and technology, so you would think that he would be comfortable with the idea of artificial intelligence (AI), but he is not.
The Tesla billionaire has repeatedly warned us of our impending demise at the hands of out of control robots and AI.
Indeed, it is reported that a South Korean University is already developing a secret robot army that could fatally mess up Kim Jong-un's hair, or completely destroy humanity, depending on its programming.
Musk's latest alarm is of immoral robot leaders from which humanity can never escape.
We are already up to our eyeballs in immoral leaders, so it's not such a stretch.
In a new documentary called 'Do You Trust This Computer?' by Chris Paine, Musk talks about the possibility of an authoritarian government building an AI system that outlives its creator and keeps the people under permanent oppression.
He is so concerned about it that he has paid for the film to be free on YouTube for the weekend but you have to provide your own popcorn, which seems a bit tight for a man worth $21bn.
He said that mankind could create 'an immortal dictator from which we would never escape.'
If that sounds ridiculous, just imagine how much of their personal wealth Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin would give for such a device.
For us to avoid this apocalyptic scenario, Musk says our governments must learn about the dangers, take on board the urgency to regulate artificial intelligence and act now for the benefit of future generations.
To reduce what he called this 'fundamental risk to the existence of human civilisation', we need the authorities to bring in laws to stop humanity from being outsmarted by computers.
Unfortunately, politicians aren't going to immerse themselves in the dull task of learning what computers are capable of; there's no immediate upside for them.
There's no votes in preventing something happening in the future.
There are only votes in fixing a problem that has already occurred.
Best of luck with that when the problem is that The Terminator is spraying machine gun fire at anyone that comes near it.
Short-termism is the problem.
Elon Musk said that regulations are usually reactive – they try to fix yesterday's problem just in time to prevent a recurrence.
To avert the annihilation of the entire human race, Musk said the first step is for government to get a better understanding of the fast-moving achievements in developing artificial intelligence technology.
We're doomed. They can barely find the bar at their own place of work, they aren’t going to understand this.
If we don't fix it, the future Musk sees is of us doughy sacks of meat being kept as pets by super-intelligent machines.
As long as they are nice to us and feed us three times a day, let us nap when we want and buy us squeaky toys to play with, that actually doesn't sound too bad.
But as we know, owners aren't always that nice to their pets.
We can only hope that the intelligence we create will be nicer than the people that create it.