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Elon Musk Says Quest For A.I. Will Be 'Most Likely Cause Of' World War III

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No A.I. for this guy. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Elon Musk's views on artificial intelligence have been well documented; let's just say that he's more than a little wary about the consequences it may have for humankind. On Monday, Musk tweeted one of his more explicit and dire takes on our quest for A.I. It came in response to a Verge article in which Russian president Vladimir Putin had reportedly told a group of students that global dominance will go to whoever makes a breakthrough with A.I.:

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It sounds a bit fantastical, but it's on par with what Musk has said about A.I. in the past. As noted at Vanity Fair, Musk had once (half) joked with a colleague that, partly because of A.I., his focus was on interplanetary colonization (so that we can take shelter on Mars if the robots ever go rogue). Going even further, he said that Google's research with A.I. could "“produce something evil by accident," which may possibly include “a fleet of artificial intelligence-enhanced robots capable of destroying mankind.”

Musk's views are at odds with that of another powerhouse name in tech— Mark Zuckerberg labeled Musk's statements as "irresponsible" during a Facebook Live session, saying, “I think that people who try to drum up these doomsday scenarios are … pretty irresponsible." He added, “If you’re arguing against AI, then you’re arguing against safer cars that aren’t going to have accidents. And you’re arguing against being able to better diagnose people when they’re sick, and I just don’t see how in good conscience some people can do that.”

Musk responded with a very pithy tweet:

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So who's leading the race in A.I. (and, apparently, global dominance)? The U.S. is regarded as being at the front of the pack, with companies such as Google and Microsoft pouring money into A.I. research (it should be noted that Microsoft's experiment with an A.I. "chatbot" came with disastrous results). A recent report by Goldman Sachs, however, said that China has all the resources and the ambition necessary to catch up with the States. "We believe A.I/ technology will become a priority on the government's agenda, and we expect further national/regional policy and funding support on A.I. to follow," the bank said, according to CNBC.