We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.’

Well that was unsettling to read. The Terminator who tried to ‘terminate’ The Terminator could be a very real threat.  For people like us here at Comms who spend their lives deep in all things tech the very thought of AI (Artificial Intelligence) creeping up upon us to take over the world is a very living nightmare.

So what of this proclamation? Where has the latest voice of doom come from; a Philip K. Dick novel?

No. None other than one of the great technical minds of our age: Elon Musk. The South African born, American citizen and the man behind success such as PayPal and Space X tweeted the above message.

Now the idea that computers will take over our world and threaten our very existence is not a new one, and to a certain extent they have indeed taken over the world in so much they are a huge part of our lives. But here Musk is not speaking of an enhancement to our lives rather a threat. When the phrase ‘more dangerous than nukes’ is proclaimed by a tech mogul who we admire, we sat up and listened and with our serious head on (yes we have one here) we dived in and investigated.

Musk has been reading ‘Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, and Strategies ’written by the Swedish philosopher and Oxford professor, Nick Bostrom. The Swede’s book explores the ramifications that machines become more intelligent than humans – a theory of many. And if this is borne out whether artificial intelligence will save or destroy humanity.

Musk followed the original Tweet with a further message, ‘Hope we’re not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence. Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable.’

Cheery reading!  And for sure it is a premise that would not seem out of place coming from great literary minds such as Dick or a Douglas Adams or a William Gibson.

Musk is a man whose career we have followed closely. Not one to cash in his chips and settle himself comfortable on his own island. He has set up Telstar: the electric car makers. Space X is charged with making Moon travel a reality for members of the public (granted rich members) and not just the province of astronauts.

So as to counter any claims that his tweet was the mad rumbling of a mad billionaire; a new Howard Hughes, bear in mind his latest venture. Musk’s very real worries that we are indeed living in some form of computer simulation, an artificial world, has led him to invest in the artificial intelligence research company, Vicarious. The companies co-founder Scott Phoenix has said that they intend to build, ‘a computer that thinks like a person – except it doesn’t have to eat or sleep.’

For Musk, a real-life Tony Stark, (not yet Iron Man!) an investment is an opportunity to immerse himself into the AI world and monitor future advances. Other backers include the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, so with blue-chip patrons such as the aforementioned trio we expect to hear more about Vicarious.

So rest assured we are keeping our eyes peeled for any sign of Cyborg’s on our streets.

Until next time…