The entrepreneur, who's been known to speak in hyperbole from time to time (remember that his reasoning for getting to Mars is to save humanity), dreamed up another worst-case outcome for A.I.: causing World War III.
Musk tweeted the prediction Monday in response to an article about Vladimir Putin from The Verge. Putin recently said that A.I. "is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind ... Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world."
Musk tweeted cryptically, "It begins." He then references some of the countries likely to race for A.I. dominance.
China, Russia, soon all countries w strong computer science. Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo.-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 4, 2017
Musk went on to say the war could be started by the A.I. itself, possibly by an A.I. system launching an automated preemptive strike against one of its challengers.
Some experts fear the U.S. is at risk of falling behind other countries, such as China, when it comes to developing artificial intelligence. The Trump administration has already proposed massive cuts to science and engineering research. At the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin earlier this year, Mark Cuban blasted the president for his lack of understanding of A.I. and other technologies. "I thought this would be the term that we had a tech-literate president. I guess it'll be next term."
Having strong opinions about A.I. has become a bit of a rite of passage for big name CEOs in the tech world. In that same talk, Cuban said the technology would create the world's first trillionaire. The entrepreneur said that person would be someone who "masters AI and all its derivatives and applies it in ways we never thought of."
In May, Jeff Bezos told a crowd at a gala put on by the Internet Association that the opportunities for A.I. are essentially limitless. "It will empower and improve every business, every government organization, every philanthropy," he said. "There's no institution in the world that cannot be improved with machine learning."
Musk's most recent comments are likely to irk Mark Zuckerberg, who last month called out Musk for his frequent A.I. fear mongering. "I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios--I don't understand it," he said during a Facebook Live chat with fans. "It's really negative, and in some ways I think it's pretty irresponsible."
Musk responded to Zuckerberg quickly, saying that the Facebook founder's knowledge of A.I. is "limited."
Evidently, Zuck's words didn't have much of an effect on Musk, because he's still sounding the alarm on all things artificial intelligence.
Musk finished up his rant on a more optimistic note, though, responding to a user who asked him to balance his negativity with more positive tweets.
"Sorry about that. You're right. I was depressing myself too," he wrote, adding a sad face emoji for added effect. "Fun, exciting tweets coming soon!"