Automotive and spaceflight entrepreneur Elon Musk issued a series of tweets on September 4th that downplayed the threat posed by the nuclear ambitions of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying that the race to develop more powerful artificial intelligence is more likely to trigger World War III instead.
Musk tweeted that North Korea "should be low on our list of concerns for civilizational existential risk," adding that "Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo." Currently, China, India and the United States are at the forefront of AI research, but Musk warns that others may resort to drastic measures to obtain such power.
"Govts don’t need to follow normal laws. They will obtain AI developed by companies at gunpoint, if necessary," according to another of Musk’s tweets. He also warns that an AI system could start its own war, "if it decides that a prepemptive [sic] strike is most probable path to victory."
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s warnings appear to be in response to a comment made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, warning that artificial intelligence is a power that should not be monopolized by any one "pair of hands", as he put it.
"Artificial intelligence is the future not only of Russia but of all of mankind. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world," Putin announced to an audience of students at a national open lesson earlier this month.
Musk has been warning about the need for regulations to be imposed on AI development, along with astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and Apple’s Steve Wozniak, due to the potential for the technology to be misused. He has also suggested that as a species we can maintain our competitiveness with emerging AI by adding an artificial neural network to our brains.