If attempts by artificial intelligence (AI) to design inspirational posters and phone cases are anything to go by, we have a long, long way to go before we have to start worrying about a Westworld-like scenario. That's not to say that AI safety and regulation is not a present concern – or that scientists and world leaders aren't currently debating the issue. The latest to join the fray is Vladmir Putin.
Addressing a crowd of students last Friday, the Russian president (known for his shaky record on human rights and a penchant for shirtless pics) spoke about AI and how he reckons it will shape and dominate global politics.
“Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind,” said Putin, according to RT. “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.”
It all sounds pretty ominous.
Putin promised that Russia will share its intel on AI with other nations, fearing the consequences if any one power ever monopolized the industry.
"If we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with entire world, the same way we share our nuclear technologies today," he added.
He also mentioned autonomous weapons – an issue that has been getting a lot of press recently. But while many have been extremely wary of the possibility, Putin seems rather more positive. Future wars will be fought by drones, he explained, reports the AP. “[W]hen one party’s drones are destroyed by drones of another, it will have no other choice but to surrender.”
Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are two prominent figures who have expressed concern about the threat of AI. Speaking to the US National Governors Association this summer, Musk warned: “AI is the rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive. Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’ll be too late. AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization,” he added.
He responded to Putin's speech with a scary prediction.
But it's not just overzealous leaders he's concerned about. It could be the case of the weapon's themselves initiating war if they believe it's the fastest route to victory.
Currently, China and America are in the race for leadership in the AI sphere. China recently announced its ambition to become a world leader in artificial intelligence by 2025.
While Trump's America has seen public funding for research programs cut, private companies are at the forefront of AI technology.