Will The Rise Of AI Cause WWIII

Peter W. Singer, a strategist and senior fellow at New America, and also the author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, is a leading expert on 21st-century security issues.

In the face of recent comments by Vladimir Putin, and responding comments by Elon Musk, Singer was interviewed to get his opinion on AI and the future. Below are excerpts of his interview:

Musk vs Putin is not the greatest of ways to frame the debate. Musk has been very outspoken about his fears over robotics and AI. He’s always seen this as an existential threat.

The fact that it’s made such news points to a bigger issue. Many perceptions are shaped by extreme visions in the realm of science fiction. The problem with that is that we’re focusing on the long-term possibilities instead of the very real and very tough challenges that are in front us.

We don’t yet know whether AI may become an existential threat. But as we speak AI is creating massive dilemmas for law, for policy, for business, and it hits everything from questions of your personal privacy to investments of government money to how we think about liability.Ultimately, a lot hinges on how such a machine could be used.

I think of AI technology as comparable to the printing press. It’s going to change the world, but we can’t possibly understand how and when.

The nations of the world are operating on the assumption that this is not just a game-changing technology, but whoever gets it will have an advantage, and that’s why they have to be there first. And so you are seeing massive investment on a national level, particularly by the US and China.

I’m less interested in sci-fi scenarios or doomsday proclamations. We have an emerging problem and we’ve got to be honest and practical in our response to it.

Ultimately, this is a problem that can only be managed if states and private companies work together. Everyone has a stake in this, and everyone has to be involved.