Elon Musk Says Google Deepmind's Go Victory Is a 10-Year Jump For A.I.

“Experts in the field thought A.I. was 10 years away from achieving this,” Musk says.

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Elon Musk can be labeled a space pioneer and an electric car innovator, but he’s also an all-around futurist, and this week he’s seeing some major progress in the advancement of artificial intelligence.

Upon learning that Google Deepmind, Alphabet’s artificial intelligence wing, won the first of five matches against the 33-year-old grandmaster of the ancient Chinese game Go with its AlphaGo AI program, Musk sent his congratulations via Twitter to the A.I. company, of which he was once an early investor before Google bought it back in 2014.

Go champion Lee Sedol predicted he’d sweep the machine in a 5-0 in a Tyson-style knockout, but had to resign the first round, following a three and a half hour stand-off. There are four more rounds to go, but this is the first time a computer program has ever been able to best such a skilled player in Go, a game conceived roughly 3,000 years ago and considered much harder to master than chess.

If this comes off as a sign of the impending robot apocalypse, don’t fret, Musk is worried about this too.

While the billionaire tech company mogul was quick to give praise, tweeting, “Experts in the field thought AI was 10 years away from achieving this,” he’s also highly concerned about the pitfalls of A.I. and the dystopian future it could breed.

In January, 2015, Musk along with Stephen Hawking and many other A.I. experts signed an open letter calling for research into the societal ramifications of this growing technology. Musk also called for a ban on A.I. weaponry, recognizing that the technology will be available in a matter of years, not decades.

“I think the best defense against the misuse of A.I. is to empower as many people as possible to have A.I.,” Musk said in a 2015 interview with Backchannel. “If everyone has A.I. powers, then there’s not any one person or a small set of individuals who can have A.I. superpower.”

Musk formed the nonprofit OpenAI with this very goal in mind. AlphaGo is just the latest manifestation of how far the technology has come in such a short amount of time, but Musk believes if the process is open sourced and transparent, A.I. companies such as Google Deepmind will do more to benefit the public than destroy it.

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