Yesterday’s Elon Musk interview was special for a few little sentences CBNC’s Kelly Evans was able to coax out of the idea man involved in creating PayPal, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) and SpaceX.
Elon Musk’s concerned about technology gone wild
Elon Musk is a man who had a vision of technology and the role it can play to advance society, which sometimes, oddly enough, makes him a target. He spoke about this role yesterday on CNBC and in doing so revealed a visionary concern about technology gone wild, which is rather like girls gone wild except it could involve danger to civilization if not properly recognized and managed.
Does this sound like hyperbole? Perhaps, but just consider the facts. Intelligent, self-learning computers are already given legal as well as tactical benefits over humans. Don’t think this happens yet? Look at high frequency trading and the legal standard given to the computers gone wild in the flash crash and the legal standard given to humans. Not only does the law give computers more relaxed legal constraints, but the real cause of problems when computers are involved is not always properly reported, as the “official” flash crash report of 2010 demonstrates.
Elon Musk didn’t go this far in the few sentences he uttered yesterday.
Elon Musk’s investment philosophy
In the interview, Elon Musk outlined a rather odd investment philosophy. He doesn’t invest in stocks other than those companies in which he is directly involved. There are two exceptions, however, that are telling.
Elon Musk said he invested not for return – really, he has all the money any man could ever need. Musk was invested “not from the standpoint of actually trying to make any investment return,” he said. “I like to just keep an eye on what’s going on with artificial intelligence. I think there is potentially a dangerous outcome there.”
Elon Musk was an early investor in DeepMind, an artificial intelligence start up with the goal of making computers that can think like humans. DeepMind was ultimately sold to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) which, as reported in previous ValueWalk, was becoming more of a drone, military industrial complex play with each acquisition. Google, which is said to be providing the NSA details from everything to e-mail content to YouTube channel subscriptions is, what George Orwell might consider, an aggregator of human opinion and communication. At a minimum they are positioning themselves nicely to fit into the new military industrial complex.
After investing in DeepMind and presumably being taken out of the loop, Musk dove back in through an investment in Vicarious, whose goal is to build a full neural network that attempts to replicate the brain controls of vision, body movement and language. The goal is to create a “computer that thinks like a person, except it doesn’t have to eat or sleep,” the company’s co-founder Scott Phoenix was quoted in a Guardian article saying. The Hollywood Hills domiciled Musk is in the deal along side celebrity investors actor Ashton Kutcher and virtual celebrity Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) fame.
“There have been movies about this, you know, like Terminator,” Elon Musk plainly stated in the CNBC interview with Evans. “There are some scary outcomes. And we should try to make sure the outcomes are good, not bad.”