Ex-Google chief jokes AI ‘death-scenarios’ are over a decade away — but no-one’s laughing

Former Google chairman Eric Schmidt had a little fun our Hollywood-inspired fears of an AI takeover while speaking at a recent security conference.

During a session at the Munich Security Conference last month Schmidt said us humans have at least ten years before we have to worry about robot death squads and the like.

When asked about the potential risks of AI proliferation, Schmidt (via Defense News) said: “Everyone immediately then wants to talk about all the movie-inspired death scenarios, and I can confidently predict to you that they are one to two decades away. So let’s worry about them, but let’s worry about them in a while.“

It became apparent Schmidt was jesting (or was he?) when pressed again on the subject, assuring the audience humanity will always be in command of the switch.

He added: “You’ve been watching too many movies. Let me be clear: Humans will remain in charge of [AI] for the rest of time.”

Schmidt warned that AI technologies should not be used in scenarios where life’s could be at stake.

“The other point that I want to remind everyone, these technologies [AI] have serious errors in them, and they should not be used with life-critical decisions. So I would not want to be in an airplane where the computer was making all the general intelligence decisions about flying it. The technology is just not reliable enough ― there too many errors in its use. It is advisory, it makes you smarter and so forth, but I wouldn’t put it in charge of command and control.”


Schmidt has long been a proponent of the benefits of artificial intelligence and continues to beat the drum in his post-Google life.

He sees the benefits in industries like energy, transportation and healthcare as outweighing any potential negatives from sentient machinery.

Google’s own ambitions in the sector have verged away from robotics in recent times. The company has sold the controversial robotics firm Boston Dynamics and is now focusing on machine learning, more natural language interaction with humans and self-driving cars.

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