Elon Musk is so obsessed with self-improving artificial intelligence (A.I.) being mankind’s biggest existential threat that he now has a new company, Neuralink.
Musk’s new company, according to the Wall Street Journal, will create devices known as “neural laces” that can be implanted in the human brain so people can mentally merge with software and ensure artificial intelligence programs have less of a chance of taking over the world and destroying humanity.
The Musk Mind Meld.
Musk has given quite a few talks on the subject of A.I., never failing to remind his audiences of the inherent dangers of creating algorithms that rewrite themselves to improve their own effectiveness and efficiencies, whatever they are, at the expense of any obstacles in their way, such as people.
Imagine a factory run entirely on artificial intelligence that manufactures ice cream making equipment. The software is singularly focused on making robots that make equipment that makes ice cream.
For this program, anything that gets in the way of making ice cream is counter-intuitive to its programming.
And its evolving programming could easily be running in background processes.
Too many people in too many houses taking up valuable acreage for clover-covered fields upon which milking cows can graze?
Get rid of the people and the problem is solved.
This is the sort of scary science fiction stuff imagined by genius Musk and others.
We just watch, agape, as genius coders make microwaves and smart TV’s that can spy on you and refrigerators that call the liquor store to replenish your stock of Victory Hop Devil.
How else might these devices be programmed?
We know today’s computer-chipped cars can be hacked at 70 mph and tech gurus put masking tape over their laptop cameras.
What we don’t know is how many real jobs will be lost to robots that can operate other robots and to what extent they will be able to repair themselves.
Or how soon.
In Arizona, a crashing self-driving Uber is simply a lesson learned from failure.
In New Zealand, drones are delivering pizza.
Last year, Bell-Hawk Systems, a manufacturing process and inventory tracking company, announced “how real-time Artificial Intelligence techniques originally developed for the USAF and NASA are being applied to manufacturing organizations to enable managers to run their manufacturing plants with less stress and much smaller management teams.”
“Smaller management teams.” Fewer employees, more production.
How soon before Amazon decides human workers are too slow and expensive in the long term when robots and drones can do all the work without health insurance, workers comp and 401(k) expenses?
Your Amazon order comes in via the internet, the receiving software transmits your order to fulfillment, which is an automated electrical device traveling above the acres of automatically barcoded boxes, grabbing your precious merchandise with its mechanical grip, traveling the ceiling-mounted checkerboard of rails to the automated postage stamping bay, from which it is delivered via rollers onto a truck with the automated truck loading system... or just to the drone with its GPS programmed with your front porch.
Oft-quoted Oxford professor Nick Bostrom warns, “Horses were initially complemented by carriages and ploughs, which greatly increased the horse’s productivity. Later,” Bostrom notes, “horses were substituted for by automobiles and tractors. When horses became obsolete as a source of labor, many were sold off to meatpackers to be processed into dog food, bone meal, leather, and glue.”
“In the United States, there were about 26 million horses in 1915.” Bostrom points out. “By the early 1950s, 2 million remained.”
So it follows that when A.I. software sees humans as obsolete for the software’s purpose, either some super-diligent army of Neuralink neuro-warriors shut it down or it shuts us down.
No wonder Elon Musk is so driven to populate Mars with as many humans as he can...as well as himself.
Contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @Jensen1150WDEL.