Elon Musk calls for regulation of AI

When one of the world's leading emerging technologists calls for regulation of AI, should we be scared?

Science fiction has always been a great way for people to explore the anxieties of digital technology. As a teenager in the 80s, the Terminator series of films were part of the cultural landscape I grew up in, as the growing computerisation of the world sparked anxiety about a rise of the machines – albeit one that was as much rooted in industrial anxiety as digital one.

It’s pretty sobering to see Elon Musk, on of the great technological thinkers of our age, starting to express similar concerns, though:

“AI is a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive. Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’s too late,” he said.

Uh, crikey. Should I be preparing my daughters to fight the rise of the machines?

He believes AI “could start a war by doing fake news and spoofing email accounts and fake press releases, and just by manipulating information.” Or, indeed — as some companies already claim they can do — by getting people to (appear to) say anything that the machine wants.

Ah, so it’s not the machines we should be worried about – it’s what people do based on the information they get from those machines.

That’s a very different equation. The interplay between humans and AI is a fascinating topic – so let’s spend this week looking at it! Check back each day this week for some more posts about AI and machine learning.