Elon Musk's concerns about the dangers of artificial intelligence have been well publicized, but the SpaceX and Tesla founder says that of all the companies currently working on self-aware computers, there's only one whose efforts actually worry him.
Speaking on stage at Recode's Code Conference, Musk was asked by The Verge's own Walt Mossberg whether he was worried specifically about the efforts of big tech players like Google and Facebook currently pivoting to AI research. "I won't name names," Musk said, "but there's only one." Mossberg pressed the question, wondering whether the company that kept the Tesla boss up at night was not one currently preoccupied with developing its own car. With a wan smile and a lengthy glance at the floor, Musk repeated his answer, suggesting his eye was on Google. "There's only one."
Musk set up the OpenAI non-profit to help avoid a scary Skynet future
Musk also used the interview to explain his decision to set up the Open AI non-profit last year, one he stressed wasn't about competition with his fellow tech pioneers, but to avoid a future in which we're all crushed under the heel of a sentient and angry computer overlord. "I don't know a lot of people who love the idea of living under a despot," he said, positing a future in which an artificial intelligences — or the people controlling it — outstrip our capabilities by orders of magnitude.
But that doesn't mean that every possible AI future is some horrific version of Skynet waiting to happen. "It's really just trying to increase the probability that the future will be good," Musk said of the non-profit, suggesting that democratizing these artificial intelligences will make for a better outcome. "If AI power is broadly distributed to the degree that we can link AI power to each individual's will — you would have your AI agent, everybody would have their AI agent — then if somebody did try to something really terrible, then the collective will of others could overcome that bad actor," Musk said.