Artificial intelligence has made another leap forward after an AI discovered new ways to multiply numbers. But many are concerned about the growing abilities of AI, like Elon Musk, who has continually spoken about AI becoming a possible threat to humanity.
AI engineered by DeepMind, a British child company of Alphabet Inc., discovered faster matrix multiplication algorithms, the first such advancement in over 50 years, New Scientist reported.
Matrix multiplication is a basic function that most software uses. Finding a way to make these computations faster, as DeepMind’s AI AlphaTensor just did, greatly improves the performance of the software.
AlphaTensor was tasked with creating an algorithm that would complete the computations as quickly and simply as possible. It started with no knowledge of any solutions. And it succeeded.
Impressively, AlphaTensor was able to improve matrix multiplication with “algorithms with state-of-the-art complexity,” Nature reported. In fact, the algorithm it discovered is more efficient than the one that has been in use since 1969 — one developed, of course, by a human mathematician.
Tesla CEO Musk has warned many times throughout the years that as AI becomes more advanced, it could be a threat to the human race.
Back in 2014, when Musk was speaking to students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he advocated extreme caution concerning AI development.
“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful,” Musk said, according to The Guardian.
“I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish,” Musk added.
At a 2017 meeting of the National Governors Association, Musk once again warned about AI development.
“I have exposure to the very most cutting-edge AI and I think people should be really concerned about it. I keep sounding the alarm bell but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal. And I think we should be really concerned about AI,” Musk said.
“AI is a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’s too late.”
Musk’s warnings should not be thought of as some sort of hysteria. This isn’t some hippie talking about the dangers of modern technology.
This is coming from someone who is actually creating AI for his cars, sending rockets into space, and aiming to colonize Mars. He’s not an AI novice.
Some have criticized Musk’s warnings as just a facade to make him look socially responsible while he goes about advancing AI anyway.
The director of the Center for Ethics and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, Alex John London, accused some in the AI field of using this ploy.
“Warnings about AI make industry look socially minded and are often window-dressing meant to build trust without that trust being warranted,” London said, according to Politico.
Sure, Musk is running several multibillion-dollar businesses that use and develop forms of AI. So his warnings might serve as a helpful public relations move.
But he has also been quite adamant for many years about the dangers of AI and has gone beyond just saying “be careful.” Musk has predicted apocalyptic scenarios if AI gets too carried away.
He has even likened it to the famous “Terminator” movies. That’s not typically how you want to sell a product, so we have to assume that Musk is at least a bit sincere in his warnings.
“In the movie ‘Terminator,’ they didn’t create AI to — they didn’t expect, you know, some sort of terminator-like outcome. … But you have to be careful,” Musk said in a 2014 CNBC interview.
With this new AI advancement made by AlphaTensor, Musk’s warnings are starting to sound a bit more prescient. There does seem to be a potential for AI to outperform humans.
Robots are probably not going to start killing people next week, but it is important to keep a weather eye on AI as Musk has urged.
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