Tech Leaders Warn of the Dangers of AI

A human hand touching a robotic hand.

Image credit: Shutterstock

In one of Elon Musk’s ever-quotable interviews, he mentioned something that has spurred quite a bit of debate online. Should we be afraid of the development of artificial intelligence, also known as AI?

Speaking at the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics department’s Centennial Symposium, Musk warned that we should tread carefully when it comes to AI.

“Increasingly scientists think there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish,” Musk stated. “With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.”

Yes, Elon Musk compared working in AI to summoning a demon.

But it’s not just Musk. Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates have also issued dire warnings on the topic. But the thing that is interesting about all of these tech leaders is that none of them are actually doing work in AI themselves; they’re merely reacting to the theoretical danger of AI without doing any of the practical work.

While there is a tendency to associate AI with sci-fi movies, in the real world AI is nothing close to the sentient computers shown in blockbuster movies. And while there’s a possibility that we might eventually reach that stage, it’s still quite a long ways off.

Some are so spooked by the idea that they propose federal regulation on this type of technology. But we have to remember that such regulation can often have a chilling effect. Look at the effect that making marijuana a Schedule I drug had on testing its medical capabilities, for example. For a fledgling technology that isn’t anywhere close to being a real danger yet, putting undue restrictions on it could cause the entire industry to be stillborn.

Should we worry? Maybe. But let’s not panic about our space elevators until they’re funded, okay?


Tesla Distributes New Charging Adapters And Struggles With “Recall” Label


IMG: niallkennedy via Flickr

Tesla Motors Inc. is issuing a recall involving 29,000 charging adapters for its 2013 Model S electric cars. Tesla informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a letter that the charging adapters might be a potential fire hazard.

In the letter, Tesla says that the NEMA 14-50 adapters used for 240-volt recharging of the Model S electric car can overheat, leading to melted adapters or start a fire. The adapter connects the car’s charging plug to the household receptacle.

Since 2012, about 2.7 percent of the adapters were returned because they ceased charging. In late 2013, Tesla learned of several cases in which there was damage outside the adapter itself, including a fire in a garage in Irvine, Calif.

The fire controversy started to heat up when three Tesla Model S’s caught on fire within 6 weeks. However, 1 was due to a horrendous high-speed collision

The electric car company has described the recall as voluntary. Once a manufacturer is aware of a safety problem, they must inform the safety agency within five days if a recall is called.

Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla Motors Inc., has found problems with this system, unhappy with the charger problem being labeled a recall.  “Because Tesla gets so much attention, NHTSA rides us pretty hard. People are going to think our car has a greater propensity for fire than a gasoline car, which is simply untrue,” said Musk in an interview with Bloomberg. No cars have been recalled; however identifying a safety issue and issuing a component to fix it warrants the recall attention

Tesla has since engineered a new adapter for owners that include an internal thermal fuse. Although the safety controversy, there is no danger to profits for the electric car manufacturer. Tesla sold 18,000 brand new cars last year; the bestselling full-size luxury sedan nationwide was the Mercedes S-Class, selling sold 12,000.

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