Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk Battle Over Ethics of AI

In the Facebook livestream heard around the world, Mark Zuckerberg had choice words for Elon Musk and other AI naysayers. The comments spurred an online debate between the two, evoking juicy Twitter beefs that better befit the pop culture industry.

While barbecuing over Facebook Live, Zuckerberg called attention to those concerned with artificial intelligence-driven “doomsday scenarios,” calling them “irresponsible” and needlessly negative. While he didn’t call out Musk specifically, the tech giant claimed just a week before that AI represents “the biggest risk we face as a civilization.”

Elon Musk hoped his words would convince government to regulate the technology, but it seems the doom-and-gloom approach isn’t working. While Musk worries about AI’s future, the industry consensus is that it’s more important to deal with present-day AI concerns, which can be used as a framework for future problems down the line.

But that doesn’t mean he’s going down without a fight. Musk retaliated against Zuckerberg’s comments in a tweet, stating that “[Zuckerberg’s] understanding of the subject is limited.” Funnily enough, AI and robotics experts have said the very same about Musk after his initial comments about the threat of AI, including influential roboticist Rodney Brooks. It seems the jury’s still out on this epic social media debate.

Both Men’s Businesses Dabble in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

It’s perhaps unsurprising that Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk would bump heads with one another on AI. Both push artificial intelligence and machine learning forward in their products and services. Facebook, for example, generated heaps of debate when it pushed for algorithms to replace humans in news curation.

Criticism against the project has cooled down, but at its height, some went so far to suggest the AI influenced the US election by propagating fake news. It’s less deadly than a robot apocalypse, but probably the kind of thing Musk is expressing worry about. In addition to news curation, Facebook has a specific unit devoted to exploring and implementing AI across the platform.

Elon Musk has a few experimentations in AI of his own, including his self-driving Tesla cars and Neuralink. The latter aims to merge the human brain with artificial intelligence, while Tesla is quickly innovating AI use for consumers. These business interests should make it obvious that Musk isn’t against AI (counter to sensationalized headlines). Rather, he’s worried about concerns of ethics: he doesn’t want bad people to do bad things with the technology.

The ethics of artificial intelligence aren’t so different than those of big data. This is because AI is often used to interpret data; ultimately, it’s a human who looks at those conclusions and decides an outcome. This is why portraying artificial intelligence as a vague, distant-future bogeyman might not be the best way to begin a discussion about AI ethics and regulation.

The Reality: Are AI and Machine Learning So Scary?

While Musk is concerned about future dangers of AI, the reality is that it’s already making an impact for social good. For example, it helps farmers grow crops more efficiently to meet increased demand for food while arable land shrinks. Some worry about robot apocalypse, but Intel is currently working to apply AI to saving human lives by developing a one-day precision medicine for cancer patients.

AI helps in the digital space as well, helping people to connect to brands and each other like never before. Our Smart Moderation AI, for example, helps people build friendly digital communities that are free from trolls, abuse and spam. The technology clearly shows how AI can better serve people without sacrificing jobs—in fact, we aim to help people accomplish their tasks more efficiently every day.

No matter how you feel about artificial intelligence regulation, it’s important to remember the useful, socially-focused applications that exist today and in the near-future. That said, the industry of machine learning is still relatively young; as the technology develops further, governments and industry leaders should be better-equipped to meet the challenges that arise.

If you’re curious about Smart Moderation’s use of AI for social good, find out how it works today. It’s fast and easy to connect your profiles, start a free trial and experience all the good that machine learning can do for your brand and communities!

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