Two of the world’s biggest technologists are currently having a public feud over the future of AI.
Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are at loggerheads over how they expect Artificial Intelligence to impact human life over the next few years. Musk has been wary of the advances in Artificial Intelliengence, saying the field’s rapid progress threatens humanity itself. Zuckerberg has been more optimistic, feeling that AI can be harnessed for good.
These disagreements appear to have come to a head this week.
During a Facebook Live session, Zuckerberg seemed to dismiss Musk’s concerns over the dangers of AI. “I think 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,” he said. He was responding to a user question who’d asked if he shared Musk’s reservations about AI.
This isn’t the only indication that Zuckerberg doesn’t agree with Musk’s views. Last week, he’d liked a TechCrunch article titled “This famous roboticist doesn’t think Elon Musk understands AI.”
In the article, Rodney Brooks, the founding director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, had said that Musk’s desire to regulate AI research was unfounded, and even attacked Tesla’s self driving cars. “Tell me, what behavior do you want to change, Elon? By the way, let’s talk about regulation on self-driving Teslas, because that’s a real issue,” he’d said in the article.
Musk now appears to have taken notice of Zuckerberg’s barbs. Earlier today, he tweeted a stinging rebuke. “I’ve talked to Mark about this (the disagreements over AI),” he said. “His understanding of the subject is limited.”
I've talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2017
Now that’s not how two of the most powerful men in the field are expected to talk to each other. Musk has been at the forefront of AI, launching a company called Neuralink earlier this year that aimed to insert implants into human brains, in order to make sure humans could compete with their AI counterparts. Zuckerberg too invests heavily in machine learning, with Facebook spending large sums of money on building chatbots and other services that use AI.
But their views about the future of the field can’t be more divergent. Musk appears to feel that AI will ultimately leapfrog the human race in intelligence, and we should be doing everything to keep up. And the public dismissal of his views by someone as prominent as Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to have sat well with him. Elon isn’t one to hold back, and his Twitter burn is distinctly Muskian — “his understanding of the subject is limited” is his polite way of telling Zuckerberg that he really shouldn’t be talking about things he doesn’t know much about.
We can’t wait to see if Zuckerberg responds.