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Elon's fear-mongering about AI: what does he have to gain?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by calisnow, Aug 13, 2017.

  1. calisnow

    calisnow Banned

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    Any theories of what Elon's motivation is with the increasingly strident public alarm bells he tweets out re AI danger and his view that regulation is needed sooner rather than later?

    Friday night he sent out a new one claiming AI is more dangerous than North Korea - the same night he publicized the fact that an OpenAI bot beat the world's best Dota 2 players. Both the tweet and the OpenAI stunt smell of really cheap, low level fear mongering and publicity seeking. I was impressed with the Dota 2 achievement until I read the only piece I could find on the game - in which the author essentially claimed that the OpenAI bot probably "cheated" - in the sense that the bot likely was tapped into the game's API and thus had much more information available to it than the human opponent. Denny Britz is a Stanford educated AI researcher most recently working at Google Brain. You can read his thoughts on the Dota 2 match here: Denny Britz

    The Dota 2 match was not pre-announced - it was sprung on the world for maximum PR effect with no build-up. Turn out the bot had been tested on several high level players prior to the public match - so there was no risk involved of it losing when it went on TV.

    Saying anything with "North Korea" in the phrase generates a lot of attention.

    So you have Elon doing whatever he can to draw maximum attention to his claims that AI is dangerous - and now he's engineering publicity stunts to try to show it. This match was not in the same league as the Deep Mind vs human go player match or the much earlier Watson vs chess master match-up.

    The question is - why does Elon put so much effort into calling for regulation when his private business is in the business of using AI to make money? I have several theories - mostly revolving around my belief that he is trying to position himself as the world's public face of "prudent" and "reasonable" AI use. IE so Joe Sixpack thinks "Well, if Elon Musk, of all people, says this here self-steering car is safe, I guess it is."

    I dunno - your thoughts?
     
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  2. Tiger

    Tiger Member

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    Elon's mission is simple, his goal is to save humanity.
     
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  3. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    My assumption is that he's genuinely worried. No hidden agenda.
     
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  4. MagT

    MagT Member

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    Elon doesnt have any hidden agenda, he seems like a 100% honest man. Think he just want to raise the awareness.
     
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  5. electracity

    electracity Active Member

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    I think his only path to fulfill his promise of full self drive in the near future is AI.

    By my observation the large majority of software developers thinks his hopes and fears of AI are silly.
     
  6. mrkisskiss

    mrkisskiss Member

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    AI is such a new, evolving yet inexorable force that I don't think anyone knows how to feel or what to think about it. Sure, It's in Elon's interest to be in the public eye, and to do that you have to have a strong opinion on things.

    Elon doesn't directly profit from the kind of AI he's talking about when he gives out doomsday prophecies (we can't really call a self-driving car anything other than narrow AI), and not many people are aware of his involvement with OpenAI. He knows that the general public respond best to hyperbole, buzz words, slogans and so on - easily memorable bitesize chunks of simple information. I think he's genuinely concerned and feels he's simply doing his bit to raise awareness of the potential dangers, and open the door to discussion about AI - which is potentially the most complex discussion of them all.

    Although... I suspect most people don't realise he's talking about the dangers of creating an ASI...rather the relatively simple, narrow focused rule-based permutational engines that defeat people at games (which isn't to discredit the incredible achievement; but it's vastly inferior to a truly cognisant AGI).

    Overall, a potential outcome is that the majority of the public may start to believe that ALL forms of AI are bad, which is clearly not the case.
     
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  7. croman

    croman Active Member

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    Its not fear-mongering if its a legit concern. Read some Asimov.
     
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  8. scaesare

    scaesare Well-Known Member

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    #8 scaesare, Aug 13, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
    I'm glad to see all the replies here essentially saying the same thing: Elon genuinely believes it's a concern, and not only says so, but tries to do something about it.

    Now I'm not saying that Elon is above self interest. I'd bet he's as interested in making a buck as everyone else. But I don't believe it's his primary motivation. Rather he sees it as a means to an end to accomplish his goals. Those happen to be aligned with his passion to do something about issues he sees as a threat to all of humanity.Thus while some people make billions to buy private islands in the pacific to sail their yachts to, Elon does it to plow back in to his endeavors.

    He appears to be motivated, not by the bottom line, but by the issues he sees as important to humankind. Fortunately he has the pragmatism to recognize that the efforts effect change in those areas has to economically viable on the whole... something that many other activism efforts fail to recognize (or don't even attempt, as their model is different).

    Part of all this is that Elon isn't afraid to largely "tell it like it is" (subject to his optimism and enthusiasm). I find that very refreshing. I find Elon delivers more facts and hard information in one discussion than I get from a years worth of spouting by most CEO's. It's often raw and unpolished... and you have to recognize it's colored by Elon's world view (especially when it comes to schedules, lol)... but I never get the feeling it's "manufactured".

    Watch Elon get choked up when he discusses how he was affected when some of the astronautical institutions/people he loved "kicked him when he was down" at SpaceX , and I think you'll see a good representation of what motivates what he says.

    Attributing "fear mongering" to him is rather insulting IMO.
     
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  9. tomas

    tomas Only partially psycho

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    Not sure how it is cheating for AI computer to tap into game's API. Just seems to demonstrate the sort of advantages AI might have. In a competition, why should the computer constrain itself to a human's capabilities.
     
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  10. calisnow

    calisnow Banned

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    I've read plenty of Asimov and agree that all possibilities are on the table. Don't want to derail this thread into a "where is AI going debate" as tempting as it is. Okay take "fear mongering" away from the title - say "warning about AI." Also this is a good read: Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People
     
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  11. deonb

    deonb Supporting Member

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    It's not a true test of abilities in that case. It's like saying I'm the best poker player in the world as long as I can look at your cards and you can't look at mine.
     
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  12. calisnow

    calisnow Banned

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    Excellent long reply - I agree with most of what you said - including my use of the term "fear mongering" - I can't go back and edit thread titles unfortunately. On the other hand - the title did generate a lot of good replies such as yours - quickly... ;)
     
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  13. calisnow

    calisnow Banned

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    You have an even more pessimistic view of the general public than I do! And that's tough to do! I salute you sir...
     
  14. lunitiks

    lunitiks ˭ ˭ ʽʽʽʽʽʽʽʽʽ ʭ ʼʼʼʼʼʼʼʼʼ ˭ ˭

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    #14 lunitiks, Aug 13, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
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  15. calisnow

    calisnow Banned

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    @Tiger @bonnie @MagT @croman @scaesare and the rest of you - okay you may be right and I may be wrong. I'll admit I have an extremely dim view of human nature - that we are built so that evil, greed and the lust for power is inside all of us and can be fed and grown. I believe that power and money corrupt the most pure of souls, at least subconsciously. So grant my suspicion for the sake of discussion:

    1 - Elon has shown himself to be a master of the use of government - which is not to take away from him or Tesla. He is changing the world and for the better - if his use of government helps the world as well as enriches him that's fantastic. Nevertheless his track record is worth considering when considering the source of the message.

    2 - Elon is close to no longer being the underdog. In fact it's possible Tesla is building a moat and an advantage that is hard to challenge in the automotive world. Once you're the dominant player you have to fear new underdogs. Could AI regulation that makes it more expensive or difficult to build and test new AI's help serve as a "moat" for Tesla against new players?

    3 - An entrepreneur calling for regulation where none exists must be a rather refreshing thing for regulators and politicians to hear. This is, I think, somewhat rare. At the very least it does not hurt his position with government - and one of the frequent refrains sung by skeptics at TMC of Tesla's vision-only approach is "It'll never pass the regulators!"

    Just musing aloud. I'm probably way off base.
     
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  16. calisnow

    calisnow Banned

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    Another thought: Could Elon be simply looking long-term, realizing regulation is perhaps inevitable - and thus positioning himself to at least have a seat at the table of helping shape regulation when it does come? This of course could help his interests. Again - this would work to his advantage. And I'm not saying that saving the world and protecting his own interests are mutually exclusive goals.
     
  17. calisnow

    calisnow Banned

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    Thanks - I haven't really read anything about this because it sounds sooooooooo "far out" in terms of being possible in our lifetimes that I haven't taken it seriously. Maybe I should. Will read these pieces - thanks.
     
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  18. electracity

    electracity Active Member

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    There is not going to be any AI regulation.
     
  19. cdub

    cdub Future Model 3 owner / Current original Leaf owner

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    Not all people have cynical reasons.

    Elon truly wants to help get the world on a better path.

    If he truly wanted to make money he certainly wouldn't have started a rocket and car company...
     
  20. calisnow

    calisnow Banned

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    Clearly I should have met you earlier in life. What are my winning lottery numbers? I'll give you a percentage.
     
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