Artificial Intelligence (AI), the technological development of computer systems able to perform cognitive tasks we would otherwise associate with human intelligence, is considered by many to be either humanity’s greatest invention or the potential source of our species’ downfall. A ground-breaking and polarizing advancement, AI has been making more and more headlines, particularly as high-profile innovators weigh in on the potential benefits and possible dangers of the technology.
Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, respective founders of Facebook and Tesla and two major figures in the technology world, recently shined greater light on the debate over AI by publically airing their opposing views on the subject. Zuckerberg, a strong proponent of AI, believes that the technology is the next major breakthrough and will result in widespread advances in everything from healthcare to transportation. Musk, meanwhile, fears the unanticipated consequences of further developing the technology and has repeatedly urged for protective regulations.
The dissent between these two giants came to a head over the summer when Zuckerberg referred to Musk as a “naysayer” during a Facebook Live broadcast and Musk fired back on Twitter, calling Zuckerberg’s understanding of the issue “limited.” The conflict escalated from there, with Zuckerberg defending himself against Musk’s barb by boasting about an award received for a new Facebook AI paper at a “top computer vision conference” whilst Musk doubled-down on his view, telling the National Governors Association that AI should be considered “the greatest risk we face as a civilization.”
It should be no surprise that Zuckerberg comes down on the side of AI advancement, as Facebook has recently been acquiring a number of top AI engineers, such as Yann LeCun, to research how AI can improve and personalize the infamous social network and its subsidiaries. But Musk continues to point out that AI’s potential for exploitation will put everyone at risk if the technology is not properly regulated.
Despite contention from both sides, one issue that is not up for debate is the potential AI has to expand each of these moguls’ respective empires, innovating products and services from Tesla’s self-driving cars to Facebook’s search and recommendation features. There is still much to be known about the future of AI, but for better or for worse, the fact remains that tech juggernauts such as Facebook, Google, and Tesla are snatching up the top AI talent in hopes of deepening their companies’ toeholds in the emerging market. What this will mean for the future of business, technology, and public safety remains to be known.