Elon Musk: ‘With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.
Posted at 10:35h, 28 Oct 2014 in List Archive by Bonnie Halper No Comments 135 Likes Share

Good morning, All,

Our next Breakfast with an Investor will be on November 20th and our guest investor will be Pedro Torres Picon, founder of Quotidian Ventures.

Pedro Torres Picón came to the US from Venezuela and founded Quotidian Ventures, a seed stage fund. His passion lies in “helping founders create technology products that modernize large industries in which they have deep domain expertise.”

The fund focuses mostly on Big Data, Location Based Services, and Mobile Commerce and invest in companies with technology products that modernize large existing industries and in founding teams with unique and proprietary knowledge of the industry they are modernizing. They also tend to focus on the earliest stages of a product’s development, when it’s often pre-product and pre-VC, and on products that represent a radical efficiency leap when compared to existing alternatives, and they prefer New York City-based companies. More about him on the eventbrite page, and he is a very active early stage investor – and always has a great story to tell. Register here.

Elon Musk has spent a great deal of time lately voicing his concerns about AI becoming more ubiquitous in our lives. It’s moving fast, according to the Tesla and SpaceX founder (OK, there’s the Hyperloop, too, what to speak of PayPal – and an investor in a company that’s developing AI technology).

He’s a Big Idea guy. Don’t look for him along the beaten path. As we said a few weeks ago, he goes off road.

Elon Musk is also an industry insider, so when he starts sounding the alarm about AI, time to take heed (Elon Musk: ‘With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.’). We’ve seen what’s happened to our privacy, and in the Age of Big Data (which, judging from some of the ads that we’re personally served when doing a search, it’s still really nothing more than dumb analytics),

What happens when AI is out in the wild, and we live in connected homes, and drive connected cars, and work in connected offices? What happens when there’s an AI misfire? Maybe we have just watched too many X Files episodes.

Sci Fi is often there as a what if for ideas, and as a cautionary tale. Good sci fi.

As he is an industry luminary, we have no doubt that Elon Musk is often part of the sanctum sanctorum, and knows the people who will potentially be deploying the tech and incorporating it into their programs quite well – people whom. as we already know, cannot be trusted. (FBI arrests Google employee for allegedly scamming college women for nudes.) And Goog supposedly hires only the best and the brightest. And no doubt at least a few of them may be lacking in social graces, if not ethics.

Whisper promised that they were the ‘safest place on the internet,’ but The Guardian showed that that was far from the truth.

We will return to the issue of the problematic Millenials that we touched on last week, but taking the view from 10,000 feet and seeing who receives a good portion of the funding, we’re going to potentially turn AI over to a group of almost literal babes in the woods who have a rather loose sense of ethics and who, judging from burn rates, on balance, can’t be bothered with so much as simple economics?

Or worse.

We doubt that Musk is leading this charge – and beating this particular drum so often – because he has nothing else to say, or that he’s looking for headlines. Attention must be paid. And remember: we were writing here in this newsletter about how we were all being tracked back in 2009. Way before it was reported in the mainstream press. At the time, we were called paranoid.  We do understand that the Googs and Yahoos and FBs of the world were strong-armed  by the government to turn over information, and all we can say is, exactly. You might also want to consider how quickly – and globally – mere computer viruses spread. Then factor in connected devices, networked communications systems, internal environments, heating and cooling systems, water distribution and filtration… For starters. There’s a reason why roads have speed bumps. To stop you from going too damned fast. So it should be for our so called information superhighway.

And we trust that the man behind the Tesla knows when it’s time to use the brakes. Onward and forward.