Article and image courtesy of the World Government Summit 2017

February 14th 2017

Elon Musk at the World Government Summit 2017Global governments should keep a close watch on the progress of artificial intelligence (AI) and how it is adopted across nations, warned Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla.

Speaking during Day Two of the World Government Summit 2017 in Dubai, Musk warned leaders from 139 nations that if AI developments are not closely monitored, what emerges could be a danger to the public.

“We need to be very careful about how we adopt AI, and make sure researchers don’t get carried away, because sometimes they get so engrossed in their work that they don’t realise the ramifications of what they’re doing,” said Musk. “I think it’s important for public safety that governments keep a close eye on AI and make sure it doesn’t represent a danger to the public.”

Musk also advised governments to think about the future of transport and a movement towards electric vehicles and sustainable transport, along with considerations on how to tackle increased demands for electricity in the future.

Another concern he highlighted during his session – which was hosted by His Excellency Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of the UAE Cabinet Affairs & The Future – was how to address mass unemployment as robotic automation becomes a global norm.

“This is going to be a massive social challenge and ultimately we are going to have to have a universal basic income, and I don’t think we’re going to have a choice,” he said. “If my assessment is correct, I think we need to think about what we’re going to do about it.”

Adding that with automation will come abundance of cheap goods and services, Musk stressed the need to address the challenge of human purpose.

“The much harder challenge to deal with is how do people then have ‘meaning’, since a lot of people derive meaning from their employment,” he said. “So, if there is not a need for your labour, what’s the meaning?”

Offering a partial glimpse into his view of the future, Musk also added that one potential path forward would be a closer merger of biological and digital intelligence.

“It’s mostly about bandwidth and the speed of connection between your brain and the digital extension of yourself,” he said.