Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk compared artificial intelligence (AI) to demons during the question-and-answer session of his talk at the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department’s 2014 Centennial celebration last week.
“In view of its potential to be possibly the biggest game-changer ever, do you have any plans to enter the field of artificial intelligence?” one audience member asked.
“I think we need to be very careful about artificial intelligence,” Musk replied. “If I were to guess what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that.”
“There needs to be some sort of regulatory oversight,” he continued, “both at the national and international level, just to make sure we don’t do something very foolish.”
“Because with artificial intelligence, we are summoning a demon. You know all those stories, there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, and he’s sure he can control the demon? How’d that work out?”
Musk then noted that HAL 9000, the rogue AI from Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, “would be easy. Artificial intelligence would put it to shame. HAL’s like a puppy dog.”
Another person then stepped to the microphone and asked a question about a mission to Mars, but Musk was still thinking about the threat posed by artificial intelligence.
“Sorry, could you repeat the question?” he asked. “I was still thinking about the AI thing.”
Watch the entire conversation below via YouTube.