Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg– two of the most prominent titans of Silicon Valley– have taken to trading verbal jabs in a fight to determine just how worried we all should be about artificial intelligence.
On Tuesday, Musk took things to another level when he dismissed Zuckerberg’s understanding of artificial intelligence as being incomplete in a tweet. “I’ve talked to Mark about this,” he wrote. “His understanding of the subject is limited.”
The snipe was in response to comments the Facebook CEO made this past weekend in which he disparaged Elon Musk’s AI-doomsaying as irresponsible. Both men are at the helm of companies that have made substantial investments in AI research.
“I have pretty strong opinions on [artificial intelligence]. I am optimistic,” Zuckerberg said during a Facebook Live broadcast during which he fielded a user question about Elon Musk’s AI-related warnings. “And I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios — I just, I don’t understand it. It’s really negative and in some ways I actually think it is pretty irresponsible.”
Zuckerberg believes that advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence will prove to be a boon for humanity, for example, by preventing car accidents in the case of autonomous cars and accurately diagnosing diseases in medicine. While he conceded that a certain level of apprehension surrounding new revolutionary technologies is reasonable, Zuckerberg stated that he was unable to understand, much less countenance, impeding progress in AI.
“Whenever I hear people saying AI is going to hurt people in the future, I think yeah, you know, technology can generally always be used for good and bad, and you need to be careful about how you build it and you need to be careful about what you build and how it is going to be used,” Zuckerberg said. “But people who are arguing for slowing down the process of building AI, I just find that really questionable. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that.”
Musk, on the other hand, has publicly voiced concerns about a robot uprising and worries that the ascendance of a super-intelligent AI will not only displace jobs and relegate humanity to a subservient role.
“I have exposure to the very cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned about it,” Musk said at the National Governors Association meeting earlier this month. “I keep sounding the alarm bell, but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal.”
Musk, who has founded numerous companies including SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, has publicly made it his mission to save the world, placing himself on the front lines of the battle to save humanity from itself. In recent years, he has emerged as a prominent voice of warning about the threat of AI, famously likening its development to “summoning the demon”. One solution Musk called for at the gathering of US governors is immediate government regulation and oversight of AI.