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Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are in a war of words over AI

Are you Team Zuck or Team Musk?

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, Space X (and more), has hit back at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, over comments regarding the dangers of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

On Tuesday, Musk tweeted about Zuckerberg’s lack of knowledge in the area.

Musk’s tweet came in response to comments made by Zuckerberg over the weekend. Musk likes to be a little cryptic on Twitter, and when asked to write a blog piece about his AI fears, tweeted that a movie was coming soon.

Zuckerberg decided it would be a good idea to have an impromptu and rather candid chat with the world on Facebook Live while grilling meats in his backyard. It’s probably part of his ongoing “Appear As a Normal Human” project.

During the one and a half hour chat the subject turned to AI after a Facebook user mentioned Musk’s fears about the future.

“I have pretty strong opinions on this,” Zuckerberg said. “I’m really optimistic. I’m an optimistic person in general. I think you can build things and the world gets better. With AI especially, I’m really optimistic and I think that people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios … I don’t understand it. It’s really negative and in some ways, I actually think it’s pretty irresponsible.”

“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 added.”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.”

Earlier this month, Musk once again voiced his concerns, telling the Washington-based National Governers Association that AI must be regulated.

“I have exposure to the very cutting-edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned about it,” Musk said. “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.”

Twitter users have been quick to point out several things.

The first is that Musk’s fears are warranted. It should go without saying that if we do eventually create Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI), we may have trouble understanding how it will think, and thus controlling it. The whole thing is neatly explained on a website called Wait, But Why.

The second, is that yes, Musk has thrown some serious shade back at Zuck.

Some have also questioned Zuck’s motives.

It’s probably worth noting that when it comes to AI, Bill Gates, another Very Smart Person, sides with Musk.

So who is right? I’m throwing my hat in for Team Musk.

I don’t buy into Zuck’s Digital Messiah thang. I don’t doubt his intentions – I believe he believes, but that doesn’t necessarily make him right.

And I can’t be the only one to think that he comes across as a bit of a wild-eyed zealot. He’s the kind of guy that would have got burned at the stake in the Middle Ages.

Sometimes those people change the world for better and sometimes they make things much, much worse, regardless of how well-intentioned they seem.

The ball is now in Zuck’s court. The best way to settle this would be an open, televised debate between the two. Now that would be interesting.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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