Elon Musk Says Terminator 2 Will Basically Be Our World Pretty Soon
Kylie Perry August 30th 2017 Science
You'd think that a titan of technology like Elon Musk would be all about technological advancement. After all, progress is what made the man behind SpaceX and Tesla a billionaire.
But Musk is urging leaders around the world to pump the brakes on one specific innovation in an effort to prevent potentially humanity-ending events. If it sounds like the premise of your favorite science fiction movie, it's because his warnings harken back to James Cameron's Terminator franchise.
Musk supports the Future of Life, but for humans only
Elon Musk sits on the scientific advisory board for the Future of Life Institute, the stated mission of which is "to catalyze and support research and initiatives for safeguarding life and developing optimistic visions of the future, including positive ways for humanity to steer its own course considering new technologies and challenges." The institute developed an open letter calling for research into the potential effects Artificial Intelligence could have on human civilization, signed by Musk, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking -- who also sits on the advisory board -- and more than 8,000 others.
In July 2017, Musk and others doubled down with another open letter, specifically calling for a ban on the combination of AI and weaponry, which they dubbed "autonomous weapons." "Autonomous weapons select and engage targets without human intervention. They might include, for example, armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria, but do not include cruise missiles or remotely piloted drones for which humans make all targeting decisions." Sound like Terminator yet? It's actually scarier.
Autonomous weapons are closer than we think
With absolutely zero humor or irony, Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and noted smart guy Noam Chomsky all argue that a potential machine uprising and the invention of intelligent killer robots with their own independent agency or under the control of a master AI (i.e., a "Skynet")is closer to science reality than science fiction. "Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is - practically if not legally - feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms."
A real bucket of sunshine these guys are. But while the message may be bleak, it was said in all earnestness. As such, given that we trust these people to develop the technology that's enabling you to read about it on the internet, it bears heeding. You know, after you're done making jokes about it.
Sarah Connor would be proud
Musk et al. want to stop the potential path to Judgment Day before humanity takes even the first step. "The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow."
Surely Sarah Connor, the mother of future savior John Connor in the Terminator franchise, would be on board with these efforts. After all, the Terminator came for her first, and then went after her baby boy years later. She would probably sign off on the list if she was, you know, real. Since the open letter can actually be signed by anybody, someone has indeed already signed as "Sarah Connor." Well played, trolls. Well played.