Elon Musk: Killer robots will be here within 5 Years

Not sure what to make of this one: ELON MUSK: Killer Robots Will Be Here Within 5 Years – Business Insider.

Elon Musk has been ranting about killer robots again.

Musk posted a comment on the futurology site Edge.org, warning readers that developments in AI could bring about robots that may autonomously decide that it is sensible to start killing humans.

…Here’s Musk’s deleted comment from Edge.org:

The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. Unless you have direct exposure to groups like Deepmind, you have no idea how fast-it is growing at a pace close to exponential. The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most. This is not a case of crying wolf about something I don’t understand.

I am not alone in thinking we should be worried. The leading AI companies have taken great steps to ensure safety. The recognize the danger, but believe that they can shape and control the digital superintelligences and prevent bad ones from escaping into the Internet. That remains to be seen…

According to the article, the comment was deleted a few minutes after it was posted.  (Which will no doubt be the source of new conspiracy theories.)

Here’s an article on the secretive Deepmind initiative that Musk mentions.

I don’t know if Musk’s assessment of how close we might be to general artificial intelligence is accurate, but this was more than just a cautionary note.  It was outright fear mongering.  I think he realized it, which no doubt is why he deleted it so quickly.  (Assuming his account didn’t get hacked or something, but this sounds like it is in line with what he’s been saying in interviews.)

I’m not going to repeat everything I’ve said about AI in the last few days.  I’ll just note that Musk’s familiarity with the putative progress of AI research doesn’t mean he understands how minds work, or what it would take for an artificial one to actually be a threat.

8 thoughts on “Elon Musk: Killer robots will be here within 5 Years

  1. My intuition is that we don’t need advanced artificial intelligence for automatic weapons/robots to be very dangerous, so we actually have two questions:

    1) How close are we to killer robots (dumb but very dangerous)?

    2) How close are we to advanced (or even strong) artificial intelligence?

    Killer robots should come before advanced AI (or they’re maybe already there, I guess). But advanced AI could make killer robots even more dangerous.


    1. 1) How close are we to killer robots (dumb but very dangerous)?

      Drones are essentially killer robots. I guess you mean entirely autonomous killer robots. I imagine the technological capability is there even if the political will is not.

      But advanced AI could make killer robots even more dangerous.

      Perhaps, but if done right it could also make them safer.


    2. Excellent point. To echo DM’s comment, I’m more afraid of “dumb” killer robots than I am of intelligent ones. Intelligent ones are a lot more likely to be able to, well, make intelligent targeting decisions. Of course, hopefully humans don’t delegate these decisions until we have at least as much confidence in the robot’s judgment as we do for a trained human’s.


    1. I agree on that, although I strongly suspect a scenario where the techs gave the executives a presentation on their progress, and some of those executives are simply getting carried away. Still, if we do get strong AI in five years, that increases the chance I’ll have my self driving car (among other things), and that would be cool!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YES! A self-driving car. That’s right up my alley. Then I can be free to do my “kar karaoke” without fearing an accident. Maybe I’ll bust a move in the back seat. Tinted windows.

        But then again, if the killer robots take over, they could abduct me and drop me off in some horrible place in West Texas or drive me over a bridge.

        Liked by 1 person

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