Elon Musk is seemingly obsessed with innovation and breaking new ground in key areas of technology. Tesla is trying to advance the cause of electric vehicles, SpaceX is attempting to reinvent space transport, and SolarCity wants to establish the United States as the central hub of solar power. But there's one thing that has Musk a little leery: the world's desire to constantly make artificial intelligence smarter and more capable. Appearing on CNBC yesterday, Musk explained that he's invested in more than one AI research company not in hopes of an eventual payoff, but mostly to give himself the best possible vantage point on new advancements. "It's really, I like to just keep an eye on what's going on with artificial intelligence. I think there is a potential dangerous outcome there," he told host Kelly Evans.
When Evans asked him to expand on those thoughts, Musk mentioned James Cameron's 1984 classic The Terminator as the type of scenario that humanity would do well to avoid. "I mean, there have been movies about this, you know, like Terminator," he said. "I don't think — in the movie Terminator, they didn't create AI to, they didn't expect, you know, some sort of Terminator-like outcome. It is sort of like the Monty Python thing. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. It's just, you know, but you have to be careful."
Musk obviously wasn't being entirely serious during the segment, but his message — that researchers should exhibit due caution as they proceed down the road of artificial intelligence — seemed genuine. "There are some scary outcomes. And we should try to make sure the outcomes are good, not bad." Evans suggested that people will simply flee to Mars if the robots should one day take over, but Musk wasn't feeling that plan. "The AI will chase us there pretty quickly."