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Should You Worry About the Global Pursuit for AI Domination?

September 5, 2017

One thing is for certain: the race to achieve AI supremacy is certainly on. Russian state news organization RT reports that Vladimir Putin believes "artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind." In fact, he went a step further, adding that it comes "with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world."

The state news agency also reports that Putin wouldn't abuse that kind of power. "If we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with entire world," he's reported to have said, "the same way we share our nuclear technologies today." You can probably take that part with a pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, China is rather more forward about its own intentions for achieving AI dominance. Earlier this year, the nation's government announced plans to surpass Western nations in the field and grow a machine-learning industry worth $150 billion. (Incidentally, analysis by Goldman Sachs suggests that it's on track.)

All of which, predictably, has AI doomsayer Elon Musk a little flustered. Taking to Twitter, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted his concern: "competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo." He later added that conflict "may be initiated not by the country leaders, but one of the AIs, if it decides that a pre-emptive strike is most probable path to victory."

All of which sounds rather ominous. So, the big question here really is: should you worry about AI's existential threat to humankind in the first place? Here are two views from MIT Technology Review: maybe, maybe not.

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