Elon Musk predicts World War III over AI

Elon Musk is predicting the cause of the third world war — and no, he’s not talking about one sparked by North Korea’s nuclear tests.

He’s talking about artificial intelligence, as he often has lately. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has called AI the greatest existential threat to humanity.

This time, the catalyst to Musk’s doomsday prediction was a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who reportedly said recently that “whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

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Sunday, Musk tweeted a link to an article about Putin’s comments, and added comments of his own.

Among his responses to the inevitable tweeted responses to his tweets, Musk went further and basically said the North Korea threat is nothing compared to the AI threat: “Should be low on our list of concerns for civilizational existential risk. NK has no entangling alliances that wd polarize world into war.”

He also said on Twitter that on the other hand, governments “will obtain AI developed by companies at gunpoint, if necessary.”

The countries deemed leaders in artificial intelligence by at least one expert are the United States (because of Silicon Valley companies), China (Tencent, Baidu) and India (Infosys, Wipro). Malcolm Frank, co-author of a recent book titled “What to Do When Machines Do Everything,” told CNN that governments and companies need to establish ground rules to ensure that AI “is going to be safe and you get the benefits of it without the downsides.”

Musk has been sounding the AI alarm often lately, sparking criticism from another famous CEO, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. In July, Musk tweeted that Zuckerberg’s understanding of AI is “limited” after Zuckerberg called “naysayers” about the technology “irresponsible.” Then, a couple of weeks ago, Musk joined more than a hundred executives in signing a letter urging the United Nations to weigh protections against autonomous weapons.

Musk acknowledged on Twitter that he’s being quite the Debbie Downer:


Photo: Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at a conference at the Paris Pantheon Sorbonne University as part of the United Nations Climate Change Conference on Dec. 2, 2015. He has been sounding the alarm on AI lately. (Francois Mori/AP)


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  • hoapres

    The World is coming to an end.


    I heard that one before.

  • omegatalon

    Elon Musk should know that despite all the computing power of IBM’s Watson, it’s still more like a potted plant that simply sits until someone asks a question as it cannot actually think independently and have a consciousness of any type; thus, if there is a WW3.. some human will still be pulling the strings.

  • Ethan Sulzinger

    @omegatalon:disqus You are very right. I think that if something involving AI will start WW3, there will definitely be some sort of terrorist group operating it.