Elon Musk: DeepMind is his ‘top concern’ when it comes to A.I.

Elon Musk believes that when it comes to artificial intelligence, London research lab, DeepMind is a “top concern.”

In 2014 Google purchased DeepMind for a record $600 million. Led by Chief Executive Demis Hassabis, the research center is best known for designing AI systems that can play games better than any person.

“Just the nature of the AI that they’re building is one that crushes all humans at all games,” Musk told The New York Times in an interview published on Saturday. “I mean, it’s basically the plotline in ‘War Games.’”

Musk has warned repeatedly that AI will soon become just as smart as humans, and has said that when it does, we should all be scared because the very existence of humanity is at stake.

The tech billionaire, who took advantage of an early investment in DeepMind, told The New York Times that his experience working with Tesla’s AI means he can tell with certainty “that we’re headed toward a situation where AI is vastly smarter than humans.” He said he thinks the time frame is under five years. “That doesn’t mean everything goes to hell in five years. It just means that things get unstable or weird,” he said.

In 2015, one year after Google acquired DeepMind, Musk co-founded the OpenAI research laboratory in San Francisco. Set up with an initial $1-billion commitment that Microsoft later matched, OpenAI says its goal is to ensure that AI helps all of humanity. Musk left the board of OpenAI in February 2018 but is continuing to donate and advise the organization.

For years Musk has sounded the alarm on AI and contrasted his views with many AI researchers working in the field.

Super Intelligent A.I.

Creating machines which are just as intelligent as humans is widely known as AI’s holy grail. Yet others, including Musk, are worried that when human-level AI is reached, computers will go on to easily outsmart humans.

AI founder Yoshua Bengio told the BBC last October: “We are very far from super-intelligent AI systems and there may even be fundamental obstacles to get much beyond human intelligence.”

Musk and Hassabis sat on a panel at the 2017 Beneficial AI Conference alongside Oxford Professor and Superintelligence author Nick Bostrom; Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn; Google Engineering Director Ray Kurzweil; Berkeley University computer scientist Stuart Russell; and many others.

At the start of the panel — titled “Superintelligence: Science or Fiction?” — everyone agreed that some form of superintelligence is possible, except Musk. However, he appeared to be joking. Asked whether it will actually happen, everyone said “yes”. When asked if they would like superintelligence to happen, Hassabis said “yes” while others gave a more nuanced “it’s complicated.”

Bostrom said in 2016 that he believed DeepMind wins the global AI race. Asked again earlier this year on the subject, Bostrom said to CNBC: “They certainly have a world-class, very excellent, large and diverse research team. But it’s a big field so there are a number of really exciting groups doing important work.”

AI consultant Catherine Breslin, who used to work at Amazon on Alexa, said, “There’s an idea that’s popular, of raising concerns about AI by imagining a future where it becomes powerful enough to oppress all of humanity. But, projecting into an imagined future distracts from how technology is used right now. AI has done some amazing things in recent years.”

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