The future of humanity is being decided in Silicon Valley. And two of the top tech titans have different opinions about artificial intelligence.

The discussion started during a live webcast that Facebook, Inc. (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosted on his platform. He was asked about his thoughts on the regulation of artificial intelligence, a technology that Elon Musk has repeatedly said threatens humanity. "I am really optimistic (about artificial intelligence)," 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." (See also: End Times: Ways Elon Musk Believes the World Could End.) 

Musk responded on Twitter and said that Zuckerberg had a "limited" understanding of the subject.

Both Zuckerberg and Musk have skin in the game as far as artificial intelligence is concerned. Musk's company Tesla, Inc. (TSLA) employs the technology extensively to learn more about the driving habits of its car owners and to power its Autopilot software. Musk is also on President Trump's technology council and has started Open AI, a non-profit artificial intelligence research company. Facebook plans to use artificial intelligence to stop the spread of fake news on its platform, and its Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) division also plans to develop systems with human-level intelligence. (See also: Facebook Is Using Artificial Intelligence to Fight Fake News.)

However, the differing perspectives of the two CEOs provide a glimpse into their visions of how artificial intelligence may be used in the future. These views are also reflected in their projects. As a personal goal, Zuckerberg built an AI personal assistant that helps control appliances in his home and entertains his daughter. In the past, he has talked about using artificial intelligence to help flag instances of violent and suicidal behavior on the Facebook platform. On the other hand, Musk has warned about the dangers of artificial intelligence as an "existential threat" to humanity. As recently as last week, he exhorted government officials to begin regulating artificial intelligence. (See also: Elon Musk Talks AI Concerns, Tesla's Stock Price With Governors.)

Currently, there are no regulations covering artificial intelligence in its manifest forms, from smart voice assistants to self-driving car software. Before leaving office last year, President Obama's administration published two research reports that laid out its thoughts on regulating artificial intelligence in the future. The reports considered "general AI," or systems with human intelligence, to be a long-term venture. In the short term, the report focused on "narrow AI," or systems that incorporate limited artificial intelligence for specific tasks. The chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers wrote in the research report that "the biggest worry I have about AI is that we will not have enough of it, and that we need to do more…" (See also: Artificial Intelligence Will Add $15.7 Trillion to the Global Economy: PwC.)

 

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