“We Want AI To Be Widespread”


The next phase of Artificial Intelligence may be top-heavy initially but not for long. As with the Internet, it will be unloosed into the world, into the hands of individuals, and that makes for both wonderful and awful possibilities. It’s interesting that Elon Musk, who fears superintelligence may be an existential risk for the species, favors an arrangement in which as many as possible will possess key AI information. He feels there’s safety in numbers. Perhaps. Some of the interested parties will have bad intentions, of course, bad intentions and powerful tools. 

An excerpt from Steven Levy’s Backchannel interview with Musk and other leaders of OpenAI:

Elon Musk:

As you know, I’ve had some concerns about AI for some time. And I’ve had many conversations with Sam and with Reid [Hoffman], Peter Thiel, and others. And we were just thinking, “Is there some way to insure, or increase, the probability that AI would develop in a beneficial way?” And as a result of a number of conversations, we came to the conclusion that having a 501c3, a non-profit, with no obligation to maximize profitability, would probably be a good thing to do. And also we’re going to be very focused on safety.

And then philosophically there’s an important element here: we want AI to be widespread. There’s two schools of thought — do you want many AIs, or a small number of AIs? We think probably many is good. And to the degree that you can tie it to an extension of individual human will, that is also good.

Steven Levy:

Human will?

Elon Musk:

As in an AI extension of yourself, such that each person is essentially symbiotic with AI as opposed to the AI being a large central intelligence that’s kind of an other. If you think about how you use, say, applications on the internet, you’ve got your email and you’ve got the social media and with apps on your phone — they effectively make you superhuman and you don’t think of them as being other, you think of them as being an extension of yourself. So to the degree that we can guide AI in that direction, we want to do that. And we’ve found a number of like-minded engineers and researchers in the AI field who feel similarly.•

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