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article imageMark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk: Does either really understand AI?

By James Walker     Aug 4, 2017 in Technology
Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk recently engaged in a highly public war of words on AI's role in society. The two leaders accused each other's view of offering limited perspective, demonstrating no one yet fully understands AI and its possible applications.
Over the past week, Zuckerberg and Musk have fired shots at each other over their respective positions on the risks of prolific artificial intelligence. The argument centres on Musk's views of what could go wrong with AI, compared with Zuckerberg's all-out attempts to innovate in the field.
Tesla founder Elon Musk has warned for years that artificial intelligence could give rise to Skynet-like scenarios where humans are controlled by machines. Last month, Musk described AI as the "biggest risk we face as a civilization" during a meeting with U.S. governors. His comments attracted attention from people with strong feelings on both sides, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
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While barbecuing in his backyard, Zuckerberg hosted an 85-minute Facebook Live broadcast in which he dismissed the concerns of AI "naysayers." In an obvious attack on Musk's views, he described people who view AI pessimistically as "pretty irresponsible."
"I have pretty strong opinions on this. I am optimistic," Ars Technica reports Zuckerberg said during the stream. "I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios… I just don't understand it. It's really negative and in some ways I think it is pretty irresponsible."
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Musk isn't one to take criticism lightly. In a series of tweets after Zuckerberg's livestream, Musk directly attacked his rival's view of AI. Responding to Zuckerberg's "pretty irresponsible" comment, Musk said:
The exchange has prompted renewed discussion on how AI should be used and adopted. The tit-for-tat attacks between the two tech visionaries have led to a surge in social media posts about artificial intelligence. Although neither leader has really benefited from the short feud, together they've successfully facilitated wider communication on the subject.
Musk has called for lawmakers to move to regulate AI and its applications, theoretically preventing a Skynet scenario from occurring. Zuckerberg remains clearly in favour of allowing open innovation of ever more accomplished artificial intelligence. The two approaches are largely incompatible as Musk's proposal would prevent companies like Facebook from freely developing new AI-based systems.
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AI is one of the most rapidly developing areas of tech right now. Every major tech company is using AI in some way, whether it's to power a new digital assistant or automatically detect toxic online comments. As AI's role grows, more debate will be required to determine society's view on the technology.
It's far too early to determine whether either Musk or Zuckerberg is "right" about AI though, even as its range of applications is increased. AI's being used as critical component of modern apps, services and businesses. There's still no obvious answer to whether it should be used however, a concern that doesn't seem to be worrying many tech leaders aside from Musk.
More about Ai, Artificial intelligence, machine learning, future tech, Mark Zuckerberg
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