An artificial intelligence arms race, and not the nuclear stand-off on the Korean Peninsula, will likely cause the next world war, Elon Musk has said.
And who are the frontrunners, according to the billionaire inventor? Russia and China.
Mr Musk, who is the founder of Space X and Tesla, and who has promised to build the world’s biggest lithium ion battery in South Australia, made the comments just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin told university students, “whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world“.
“Artificial intelligence is the future not only for Russia but for all of human kind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict,” Mr Putin told a forum of children at the weekend.
Later on Twitter, Mr Musk appeared to agree.
“It begins … competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WWIII [in my opinion],” he said.
He said China and Russia were currently leading the race, but Mr Putin has said if Russia does became a leader, it will seek to share its knowledge with the rest of the world.
“It would not be very desirable that this monopoly be concentrated in someone specific’s hands,” he said.
“That’s why if we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with the entire world, the same way we share our nuclear technologies today.”
Though a monopoly may be the least of our worries if future AI weapons are able to control themselves, Mr Musk said.
“[WWIII] may be initiated not by the country leaders, but one of the AI’s, if it decides that a pre-emptive strike is most probable path to victory,” he tweeted.