Elon Musk's chilling warning against AI: 'It's like summoning a demon'

Elon Musk, PayPal founder and CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla Motors, has expressed a deep concern over the development of AI, adding his voice to a growing list of prominent speakers concerned about its future. Musk described the development of advanced artificial intelligence as "like summoning a demon", calling it "our biggest existential threat" and warned humanity against "doing something foolish".

His words came during at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AeroAstro Centennial Symposium last week, when questioner asked if he had any plans to develop AI commercially.

"I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it's probably that. So we need to be very careful with artificial intelligence."

"I'm increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don't do something very foolish."

"We should be careful about artificial intelligence"

"With artificial intelligence we're summoning the demon. You know those stories where there's the guy with the pentagram, and the holy water, and ... he's sure he can control the demon? Doesn't work out."

When the questioner joked that there "would be no Hal 9000 going to Mars", referencing the rebellious artificial intelligence in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Musk replied that "Hal 9000 would be easy. It's way more complex than that. This would put Hal 9000 to shame."

Musk has spoken up before about the need for more oversight of artificial intelligence development. In August, he warned on Twitter that AI could to do more harm than nuclear weapons. Tweeting a recommendation for a book by Nick Bostrom called Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, he wrote: "We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes."

Earlier this year Stephen Hawking, along with fellow scientists Frank Wilczek, Max Tegmark and Stuart Russell, warned against the continual development of advanced robotic systems in an article for the Independent.

In March, Elon Musk made an investment San Francisco-based AI group Vicarious, along with other big tech investors such as Mark Zuckerberg and actor Ashton Kutcher.

Is Musk right to be worried, or has he just seen too many movies? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, or stop by for a chat with the ITProPortal team and other readers on ITProPortal's tech talk live chat.