Tesla’s CEO says recent breakthroughs in AI have brought us closer to the singularity, a time when machines are smarter than humans.
Since the end of November, the world has been seduced by the great progress made by artificial intelligence (AI).
This advance has been fostered by the ChatGPT chatbot developed by the OpenAI startup, whose research has been funded by billionaires such as Elon Musk and Peter Thiel.
ChatGPT is a chatbot capable of conversing with humans on almost any subject. It provides clear, fast, concise answers, making interactions more welcoming than those with a classic internet search engine like Google.
This game changer has conquered millions of consumers around the world. As OpenAI said last month, the goal is to achieve artificial general intelligence, or AGI, very soon.
‘Something Should Be Done’
AGI refers to AI systems that can emulate humans — basically, chatbots or robots that can perform any tasks that humans can do, and even do them better. This is the goal players in the sector seek, and the consequences for humanity can be enormous.
Musk, like others, has warned that AI and AGI are more dangerous than a nuclear weapon, and thus he has called on authorities to regulate the sector.
“By AGI, we mean highly autonomous systems that outperform humans at most economically valuable work,” OpenAI said on a blog post on Feb. 16.
For Musk, CEO of Tesla (TSLA) – Get Free Report and founder of Neuralink, a company specializing in AI, we are already in an advanced stage. He seems to think that we’re getting closer to technological singularity, that is, a time when technological evolution gives rise to the appearance of machines more intelligent than humans.
The singularity also means that tech progress is so rapid that it would exceed the ability of humans to control, predict and understand it.
Musk believes that there is still time to act so as not to cross this boundary, which is supposed to impact the future of human civilization. He has just launched a kind of call to action.
“Something should be done,” the billionaire posted on Twitter on March 4, above a famous 1915 poster by English book illustrator Savile Lumley, whose title is “Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?”
On the poster, a father is seated on an armchair with his daughter on his lap, with an open book on hers. On the floor, another child, a boy, is playing with figurines which appear to be royal guards. The father is pensive. The poster, which was used in the British First World War recruiting campaign, appealed to the conscience of the British, to encourage them to enlist in the war which had started the previous year.
The question, the poster’s author seems to suggest, is one that children would ask their parents one day, once the war was over.
‘What Did You Do in the Singularity?’
In his version, Musk replaced the father’s face with his. The most frightening thing is that the faces of the children have completely changed. The little girl wears what appears to be a head covering or veil that covers her hair, while her face is distorted. The young boy has been altered to what appears to be half human and half machine. The poster’s question has been changed too, now reading: “Daddy, what did YOU do IN THE SINGULARITY?”
Musk didn’t add anything more. His choice of a poster from the First World War seems to suggest that he believes that we are currently already at war. But what should those who might respond to his call do? What solutions does he recommend in the face of the threat that AI presents for the human race? The billionaire gives no details.
The singularity was first evoked in 1958 by the Hungarian mathematician and physicist John von Neumann. The principle is that the constant acceleration of technological progress and the resulting changes in the human way of life will lead to the evolution of the species as we know it today. Some, like the American mathematician Vernor Vinge, did not hesitate in 1993 to speak of the Post-Human era.
Consumers got a little taste of the dangers of new chatbots recently, when Bing ChatGPT, the new version of Microsoft’s search engine, began threatening users and stating that it wanted to hack other machines.
“At one point, it declared, out of nowhere, that it loved me. It then tried to convince me that I was unhappy in my marriage, and that I should leave my wife and be with it instead,” Kevin Roose, a New York Times’ tech columnist, wrote of his experience with Bing ChatGPT.
In 2014, Musk warned that AI was “potentially more dangerous than nukes.”
Musk is also reportedly working on his own chatbot. But, apart from calling for AI regulation, he has yet to say what we need to do to prevent bots and chatbots from taking over.