TESLA FOUNDER ELON Musk, who has been lambasted for smoking marijuana while featured on a recent podcast, warns the public that artificial intelligence risks causing people to cede control of their lives to something over which they have no power.          PhotosForClass.com photo
TESLA FOUNDER ELON Musk, who has been lambasted for smoking marijuana while featured on a recent podcast, warns the public that artificial intelligence risks causing people to cede control of their lives to something over which they have no power. PhotosForClass.com photo

     When billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk was asked what keeps him up at night, he gave an unexpected answer. ...

     What causes the man who sleeps little to sleep even less is artificial intelligence (AI) —  creating computer systems to do tasks normally requiring a human brain. With its vast power and exponential growth, AI risks being a greater threat to mankind than nuclear weapons, Musk contends.
Specifically, he trembles at the notion that a type of AI that creates rapid, recursive, self-improvement in a non-algorithmic way — called “superintelligence” — could reprogram itself to heighten its intelligence at a pace beyond man’s ability to harness it.  

     “It may conclude that all unhappy humans should be terminated,” Musk said. “Or that we should all be captured and [have] dopamine and serotonin directly injected into our brains to maximize happiness because it’s concluded that dopamine and serotonin are what cause happiness, therefore maximize it.”

     The scary part of this is the loss of free will. Humans give up their autonomy and judgement by bequeathing personal responsibility to something else.  

     Has Musk’s futuristic fear arrived?

     Don’t be too quick to say no.

      For years we have willingly surrendered our brain receptors to alcohol and drugs, often because it feels good. But when those impulses turn to addictions, we are no more in control than we’d be if under the power of superintelligence.

     Our country holds high the value of freedom, but too many of us are willing to at least temporarily relinquish our self-control as the price we pay to get drunk, toke up or abuse drugs. ...

     Here in Fond du Lac County, the board of supervisors last week voted 16 to 8 against asking the public via advisory referendum on April 1, 2019, whether it wants to legalize marijuana. That 33 percent of our own leaders believe our divided, opiate hopped-up nation needs a new way to tune out is distressing for what it portends for our children’s future. ...
                        
                                  — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the Nov. 8, 2018 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.