World War 3 Will Be Fought Over AI, Claims Elon Musk
Following comments from Putin about how the nation with the most advanced military AI will become "the ruler of the world", Musk took the opportunity to reflect on humanity's squishy weaknesses, suggesting that if humanity goes down the route of letting robots fight all out battles for us, it won't be long before we end up in an otherwise avoidable global war.
It begins ... https://t.co/mbjw5hWC5J— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 4, 2017
The danger, according to Musk, is that when the power to launch missiles is left in the hands of artificial intelligence programs that are designed with a limited set of morality parameters, it's only going to be a matter of time before one of these AIs decides that the best way to achieve its primary goal (of keeping its nation's citizens safe) is to preemptively attack a hostile external threat.
May be initiated not by the country leaders, but one of the AI's, if it decides that a prepemptive strike is most probable path to victory— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 4, 2017
In this scenario, it seems that Musk expects the AI's actions not to be deliberately malevolent, but rather the inescapable result of a programming oversight caused by overzealous military leaders who want their machines to act fast in the face of potential danger. Plus, Musk isn't sure you can ever trust a government to behave when it comes to acquiring the latest tools of destruction.
Govts don't need to follow normal laws. They will obtain AI developed by companies at gunpoint, if necessary.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 4, 2017
You've got to hand it to Elon Musk—in his continuing quest to warn the world of the dangers of artificial intelligence, he's not afraid of sounding like Professor Frink from The Simpsons.
This is far from the first time he's prophesied the extinction of the human race at the hands of powerful AI. Normally, his warnings center around machines surpassing us in intelligence, but the idea of a more immediate threat that's brought about by military hubris does seem a lot more pertinent in the current political climate than worries that robots will eventually overthrow us for their own benefit.
After all, the world already has autonomous warships that are capable of identifying and neutralizing hostiles without the need for human intervention. It's not too much of a stretch to assume that military forces will trust more decisions to robots in the near future. However, it does feel like something of a stretch to assume that this technology will be left in charge of nuclear launch codes. There are already protocols that ensure that no single human can hit the big red button that launches a salvo of nukes, so we'll bet that we're not going to end up with a War Games situation any time in the near future.
As much as Musk sounds like Professor Frink when he starts doomsaying about robot uprisings, though, it's worth remembering that Frink is generally not wrong.