Is Artificial Intelligence Humankind’s Biggest Threat?

Artificial Intelligence
Credit: Geralt /

Many have voiced their concerns over the threat of Artificial Intelligence (AI):

A question that has been pondered since the 1940s, when Alan Turing began to wonder about a time when mankind would be slaves to their machines.

It became more serious after the publication of Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, and Strategies‘ by Professor Nick Bostrom:

In this book, Professor Bostrom debated everything that could go wrong regarding AI.

Since then, many in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields have given their opinion on the threats that humanity may face in the future from AI.

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Elon Musk And AI

One name that stands out is the once labeled real-life Tony Stark, Elon Musk. An entrepreneur who considers AI an even bigger threat than nuclear weapons!

Musk, the billionaire engineer also works with technology to manufacture electric cars, and sustainable energy, and dreams about colonizing Mars but consistently warns about the existential threat possessed by advanced learning and AI.

In 2018, Musk called for a regulatory body to oversee developments in AI while speaking at the South by Southwest tech conference in Texas:

Based on his knowledge and experience of machines and technology, Musk believes that the AI threat is real, stating that the developments in AI will eventually outpace humans’ ability to control it.

Artificial Intelligence

There have been several occasions when Musk warned about this threat:

  • In an interview with AeroAstro Centennial Symposium, Musk said: “with artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon.” He continued: “You know all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water and he’s like… yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon, [but] it doesn’t work out.”
  • In his interview with The New York Times, Musk said that AI can take over by 2025 if it continues to develop at the same pace.

Musk even established an artificial intelligence research lab called ‘Open AI’ in 2015 to oversee the developments in AI – and to evaluate possible threats. 

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Is AI Humankind’s Most Pressing Danger?

Many scientists and developers believe that AI is like a rocket, once it is launched there is no way we could control it:

Even today, when AI is still in its early phase it has replaced humans and has completely changed the workplace.

Plus, the alleged manipulation in the 2016 presidential election is largely attributed to AI and shows how in the wrong hands, AI could be used for social manipulation and misinformation amplification:

And don’t forget, AI is already changing how conflicts are fought with autonomous drones.