Tesla Inc. (TSLA) Chief Executive Elon Musk may be busy warning the world of the destruction artificial intelligence will bring, but for Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates, there is nothing to worry about yet.
In an a joint interview with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Gates told The Wall Street Journal he disagrees with Musk about the impact AI will have on the world. “The so-called control problem that Elon is worried about isn’t something that people should feel is imminent,” said Gates. “We shouldn’t panic about it. Nor should we blithely ignore the fact that eventually that problem could emerge.”
Musk made headlines this summer after saying at the National Governors Association meeting in Rhode Island that AI could put millions of people out of work and possibly start World War III if the technology isn’t regulated. It's not the first time the maverick entrepreneur has sounded a dire warning about AI. The founder of the green car company and SpaceX recently said AI machines that can conduct everyday tasks is the “biggest risk” to civilization since they will be able to do everything better than humans. That has sparked a debate about the role government should have in AI. (See also: Elon Musk's Neuralink to Save Humanity From AI.)
AI Optimists Speak Out
Gates isn’t the only luminary to disagree with Musk when it comes to AI. Facebook Inc. (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed Musk as an alarmist when asked during a Facebook Live event if AI should be regulated by the government. "I am really optimistic [about AI]," said Zuckerberg. "People who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios, I just, I don't understand it. It's really negative and in some ways I actually think it is pretty irresponsible.”
Microsoft’s Nadella also ventured into the debate during the co-interview with the Journal, saying there is a level of responsibility on the part of humans who create AI robots and machines. “The core AI principle that guides us at this stage is: How do we bet on humans and enhance their capability? There are still a lot of design decisions that get made, even in a self-learning system, that humans can be accountable for,” the executive said. (See also: Artificial Intelligence Will Add $15.7 Trillion to the Global Economy: PwC.)
Regulation focusing on AI does not yet exist in the U.S., even as the technology makes its way into all sorts of devices from voice activated speakers to autonomous vehicles. President Obama’s White House did issue two research reports on the technology and how it may be regulated, but nothing is on the books. Instead of fear mongering, the Obama administration embraced the burgeoning technology, saying the real threat is not having enough of it in society.