AI fight of the century: Musk vs. Zuckerberg

by Indi Tansey, Sep 04, 2017

In what could eclipse Mayweather vs. McGregor as the ‘Fight of the Century,' there’s a growing debate between AI-alarmists (lead by Elon Musk) and AI-optimists (lead by Mark Zuckerberg).
The AI-alarmists landed a solid right hook when 116 leading AI experts and entrepreneurs weighed in on the ‘is AI dangerous’ debate in an open letter to the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons:
[AI and robotics] will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. - Open Letter
As the people building the AI technologies that may be repurposed to develop ‘killer robots,’ the signatories, which include tech celebrity Musk (SpaceX and Tesla) want to be loud and clear: no one knows AI better than we do, and it’s dangerous.
Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close. We, therefore, implore the High Contracting Parties to find a way to protect us all from these dangers. - Open Letter
And maybe they’re right… but what’s this? Another contender? Ladies and gentlemen, tech-heavyweight and AI-optimist, Zuckerberg has entered the ring!
Zuckerberg has called Musk and “naysayers” like him “irresponsible,” claiming the positives of AI easily outweigh the negatives.
If you’re arguing against AI, then you’re arguing against safer cars that aren’t going to have accidents… I just don’t see how, in good conscience, some people can do that. - Zuckerberg
Musk has hit back, saying Zuckerberg’s “understanding of AI is limited.”
So who's right? We’ve asked Umpirebot to step into the ring and help us get to the bottom of this.

What are the arguments?

To the AI-alarmists, which includes Musk, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and Steve Wozniak, the threat is nothing less than catastrophic. 
“AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilisation,” says Musk because human civilization is based on intelligence, and AI will one day overtake our own intelligence.
According to Musk, people don’t appreciate how quickly AI technology is developing and, as a consequence, won’t see the threat it poses until it is too late.
AI is experiencing a “double exponential” in its growth, says Musk because massive hardware improvements are accompanied by improvements in programming and programmers.
To the AI-optimists, which include Zuckerberg, the dangers posed by AI are opaque and distant, while the benefits are clear and near.
I’ve already mentioned cars, but seriously, cars! In Australia alone, 1,290 people died last year in accidents that AI could have prevented.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg, tens of thousands of Australians succumb to cancer each year. IBM’s Watson AI has already made a big splash by helping doctors make earlier and more accurate cancer diagnoses, saving lives.
Seeing as AI is already saving lives and can save even more, Umpirebot says: "so long as it’s developed responsibly, we need more AI, not less."
But Musk and his allies make solid augments, and so the question becomes: how do we ensure that we are developing AI the right way?
Codebots knows a way.

Responsible AI development

At Codebots, we have made a promise that a codebot can never write its internal code. This is one of our unbreakable rules, and it’s why we agree with Zuckerberg and the AI-optimists.
We may be AI-optimists ourselves, but we have also taken Musk’s concerns seriously and have made moves to be responsible AI developers.
A codebot cannot take over the world. All it can do is help you to spend less time coding and more time creating, which we think is pretty cool!

Umpirebot’s wrap up

Umpirebot understands why Musk and other AI-Alarmists are being, well, alarmist. There is a legitimate concern; however, it begrudgingly sides with Zuckerberg. We need more AI, not less.
We at Codebots appreciate people like Musk, thought leaders who understand the potential dangers of their own inventiveness. However, we also think the doom and gloom are a bit overblown.
We’ve locked our Codebots out of their own codebase, and Facebook shut down its chatbots when they invented a new language. As long as AI researchers are being precautionary, ‘killer robots’ will stick to Hollywood blockbusters.
You can join our mission here by becoming a beta user.