There is a saying among PR folks, which essentially states that “all press is good press”. Or there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Which I think can be true in most cases. If we’re being honest, it often helps people in terms of becoming more famous. Or hyping up a project, for example. Which is maybe what Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg did this weekend. Or at least Elon Musk. Over the weekend, Mark Zuckerberg went live on Facebook and answered some fan questions. One in particular has caught the attention of the media. What is Zuckerberg’s take on artificial intelligence? And does he agree with Elon Musk when it comes to AI?
For those of you who don’t know, Elon Musk believes that AI is dangerous. Especially in a futuristic sense. Even comparing it to “summoning the demon”. Zuckerberg, however took a more positive stand. Indicating that people who are anti-AI are “naysayers trying to drum up doomsday scenarios”. So which opinion do you think is right? Is the future of AI really that scary? Zuckerberg also goes on to say that any kind of technology could be used for good, or bad reasons. Which is why I think we have regulators around certain industries. You can’t just make something and then unleash it on the world in an irresponsible manner. Or does Musk have a better understanding of what AI could be? He certainly thinks Zuckerberg has a limited understanding of AI.
Maybe we all do. Maybe none of us have the technologically advanced mind that Musk does. I may be speaking just for myself right now, but I wonder if Musk knows something that we don’t? I myself have a pretty good understanding of how AI works. Not because I create products that use the technology, but because of how I see it being used in every day life. My brain, which is hard wired to be negative, doesn’t automatically go to that place when it comes to AI. Which is a feat unto itself. But that’s a topic for another post. The point is, what does he know that he’s not willing to share?
At the National Governor’s Association summer meeting in June, Musk stated: “I have exposure to the very cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned about it. I keep sounding the alarm bell, but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal.” So is that what we can expect from the future? Literally a scene out of a science fiction movie? Is Musk taking this too far? I think there are two arguments that could be made here. The first is, should we be getting upset about this before it’s even an issue? If regulation is done properly, this will not be an issue. With the state of the current Administration, however, I’m not sure that “properly” will work in this scenario.
The second argument is, we should be worried about this because the regulation doesn’t exist. Which speaks to a larger issue with government policies. Most notably those being reactive instead of proactive. As someone who works in great detail with government policies, I can attest to this. Implementing a proactive policy where you are imagining every worst case scenario is extremely difficult. In some cases, next to impossible. You can’t plan for every “what if”. That being said, should we wait for those “what if” scenario’s to come true before taking charge?
Getting back what I opened this article with. After Zuckerberg’s video was live, Musk took to Twitter with two tweets. The first said “I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited” And the second tweet said “Movie on the subject coming soon…”. Which brings me full circle. Is this just a way to promote his movie? I am not knocking this strategy, but it does make you wonder. Musk is very passionate about this particular topic, so I am not convinced that this was his goal. But when an opportunity presents itself, one must take it. Further to that, this also gives him a platform to continue discussing the topic. And, if you listen to Zuckerberg, it’s all about doomsday scenarios.
Whatever the answer is when it comes to AI. One thing is clear – this is a really amazing time to live in, especially from a technology perspective. Where is AI going? Will it be used only for good? Will the government be able to regulate the industry? Or will we be living in a science fiction movie in a couple of years?