TECH billionaire Elon Musk has revealed he believes artificial intelligence could be catastrophic for humanity who are set to become a cyborg race which will have to grapple with 15 per cent of the global work force being without a job.
The creative genius added a ‘universal income’ would have to be introduced for the global population because robots will do everything.
Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, the entrepreneur also told the 4000 strong conference he saw space flights to the far reaches of the solar system being as common as a plane ride in 50 years.
And self-driven cars were just 10 years away from usurping human driven vehicles completely.
The business magnate, who was being interviewed by Mohammad Abdulla Alergawi, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future for the UAE, told the slightly perplexed crowd: “One of the most troubling questions is artificial intelligence. I don’t mean narrow A.I. — deep artificial intelligence, where you can have A.I. which is much smarter than the smartest human on earth. This is a dangerous situation.”
He also warned world governments: “Pay close attention to the development of artificial intelligence.
“Make sure researchers don’t get carried away — scientists get so engrossed in their work they don’t realise what they are doing.”
When asked if he thought A.I. was a good or a bad thing Musk said: “I think it is both.
“One way to think of it is imagine you were very confident we were going to be visited by super intelligent aliens in 10 years or 20 years at the most.
“Digital super intelligence will be like an alien.”
He then joked: “It seems probable. But this is one of the great questions in physics and philosophy — where are the aliens?
“Maybe they are among us I don’t know. Some people think I am an alien. Not true. “Of course I would say that though wouldn’t I?”
He went on: “If there are super intelligent aliens out there they are probably already observing us.
“We are just not smart enough to realise it. Any advanced alien civilisation that was at all interested in populating the galaxy, even without exceeding the speed of light, at say 10 or 20 per cent of the speed of light, you could populate the entire galaxy in 20 million years max.
“That is nothing in the grand scheme of things.”
Musk also discussed how he saw human beings as already being ‘cyborgs’ as we become more and more dependent on technology.
To muted laughter from the crowd he explained: “To some degree we are already a cyborg — you think of all the digital tools that you have — your phone, your computer. “The applications that you have. The fact that you can ask a question and instantly get an answer from Google and other things.
“You already have a digital tertiary layer. Think of the limbic system — the animal brain and the cortex as the thinking part of the brain, and your digital self as a third layer.
“If you die your digital ghost is still around. All of their emails, and social media, that still lives if they die.
“Over time we will see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence. It is all about the band width of the brain.
“The digital extension of yourself. Output if anything is getting worse. We do most of our output through our thumbs which is very slow.
“Some high band width interface to the brain will be something which helps achieve symbiosis between human and machine intelligence, which solves a control and usefulness problem.”
The minister introduced Musk by comparing him in brilliance to Albert Einstein but the billionaire revealed that while many may admire his genius, he wasn’t that comfortable with it: “I think that they probably shouldn’t want to be me — it sounds better than it is.
“It is not as much fun as you think. It could be worse for sure (but) I am not sure I want to be me.”
The minister was also being interviewing Musk because he is launching Tesla, his electric car brand, in the Middle East.
The entrepreneur said he saw cars as being totally autonomous in around 10 years.
And since October 2016 Tesla vehicles have had enough computer capability in each model to be easily upgraded to a self-drive.
He likened using a self drive car to ‘getting in an elevator’ and pressing a button.
Musk said autonomous cars would be a great convenience, but also a game changer for society, adding he saw the advances in technology causing mass unemployment.
This would result in huge swathes of the population losing their direction and purpose: “I think (driving) might be the single largest employer in various forms.
“We need to figure out new roles — what do those people do? It will be very disruptive and very quick.”
Estimating there are nearly two and half billion cars and trucks in the world, he added: “The point at which we see full autonomy appear, will not be the point where we see mass upheaval.
“That disruption will take place over 20 years. But 20 years to have 12 — 15 per cent of the work force unemployed is a short time.”
His solution was unemployment benefit for the masses: “What to do about mass employment — this is going to be a big challenge.
“We will need to have some kind of universal basic income — I don’t think there will be a choice.
“There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better.
“These are things that I wish would happen, these are things probably will happen.
“I think some kind of universal income will be necessary.
“The harder challenge is how do people then have meaning — because a lot of people derive their meaning from their employment.
“If you are not needed, if there is not a need for your labour. What’s the meaning? “Do you have meaning, are you useless? That is a much harder problem to deal with.”
Musk also suggested, like in The Matrix, we could even be in a created reality already and not even realise it: “Now you can see a video game that is photo realistic and millions of people playing simultaneously, and you see where things are going with virtual reality and augmented reality.
“If you extrapolate that out into the future with any rate of progress at all, at 0.1 per cent a year, or something like that, then eventually those games will be indistinguishable from reality. They will be so realistic you will not be able to tell the difference from that game and life as we know it.
“How do we know that didn’t happen in the past and we are not in one of those games ourselves?”
The business magnate also his plans for space flight revealing he would like to see travel to different planets and solar systems as a common occurrence in as little as 50 years: “I hope we are out there on Mars, and maybe beyond, the moons of Jupiter. I hope we are travelling frequently outside the solar system and nearby star systems. I believe all of this will be possible in 50 years.”
Musk, who is enjoying time with his children in Dubai while attending the conference, also discussed the tunnel he is building under Los Angeles to combat traffic issues.
Joking he said: “It’s secret plot, just between you and me.”
He then went on to explain: “I think the solution to urban congestion is a network of tunnels under cities.
“Tunnels that go many levels deep. You can always go deeper that you can go up.
“The deepest mines are deeper than the tallest buildings. Given that you can overcome the congestion in any city in the world
“The challenge is just learning how to build tunnels quickly, at low cost, with high safety.
“Washington DC, New York and LA and most of the major cities in the world suffer from major traffic issues.”
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