Two of the technology industry’s most powerful leaders are at odds when it comes to artificial intelligence.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has a pessimistic view of the risks associated with such technology. “I keep sounding the alarm bell,” Musk told the National Governors Assn. in June. “But until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal.”
Facebook Chief Mark Zuckerberg on Sunday called Musk’s dire warnings overblown and described himself as “optimistic.”
“People who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios — I don’t understand it,” Zuckerberg said while taking questions via a Facebook Live broadcast. “It’s really negative, and in some ways, I actually think it is pretty irresponsible.”
Musk shot back on Twitter early Tuesday, saying Zuckerberg was out of his element. “I’ve talked to Mark about this,” Musk wrote. “His understanding of the subject is limited.”
The back-and-forth illustrates a rift between two tech moguls whose companies are both working on projects related to AI.
Zuckerberg, who heads the world’s largest social network of 2 billion users, has a full team of AI researchers building voice- and face-recognition programs. Musk’s electric car company is using the technology to enhance self-driving features in its vehicles.
The spat also points to their differing public personas. Zuckerberg is known for his measured public statements, but also his confidence that technology will genuinely improve the world. Musk, on the other hand, is not afraid to make eyebrow-raising remarks on many topics, be it the danger of self-aware computer networks or his theory that we’re actually characters living inside a simulation.
While speaking at the governors meeting, Musk made the case for government regulation of AI, arguing that the technology could raise a “fundamental risk to the existence of civilization.”
Zuckerberg said in the video that the benefits of artificial intelligence far outweigh any potential consequences.
“If you’re arguing against AI, then you’re arguing against safer cars that are not going to have accidents,” Zuckerberg said. “And you’re arguing against being able to better diagnose people when they’re sick. I just don’t see how in good conscience some people can do that.