Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Elon Musk thinks AI has the potential to be an “immortal dictator”

Speaking in a new documentary, Elon Musk has issued a stark warning about AI, and its ability to outlast any individual authoritarian regime and oppress a population indefinitely. 

The Tesla CEO says we could unwittingly create “an immortal dictator from which we would never escape”, the latest of a multitude of warnings about the dangers of artificial intelligence he’s issued over recent months.

Musk made the comments, which were first reported by Mashable, in a new documentary called ‘Do You Trust This Computer?’. The director, Chris Paine, is best known for his 2006 film ‘Who Killed the Electric Car?’

Previously, he’s said that it poses an existential risk to the human race, and that it could be a bigger threat than North Korea. On another occasion he referred to using AI as being akin to “summoning the demon“.

This fear of the dangers of AI is part of the reason for Elon Musk’s Neuralink, a startup focused on building brain-to-computer interfaces. His thinking is that allowing humans to interface more seamlessly with computers is essential if we want to stay one step ahead of AIs, which are growing more and more intelligent with each passing day.

Understanding the consequences

Musk’s warnings come at a time when the entire tech world is rushing to implement artificial intelligence into their products, leading to fears that our implementation of the technology is outpacing our understanding of it.

The nature of modern AI systems (which largely rely on machine learning) is that they can often generate outcomes that even their designers don’t fully understand. The sheer amount of data that has been used to create them are easy for a piece of software to understand, while a human would take years to get to the same level.

As we entrust more and more of our digital lives to services built on AI, there’s an ever-increasing potential for systems designed with the best of intentions to go awry with devastating consequences. Social media platforms designed for friends to share news with each other have unwittingly become rather effective at spreading fake news, while YouTube’s algorithm’s panders to people’s unconscious desires by recommending more and more extreme content.

A political AI with the potential to oppress a population feels like a long way off, but compared to what we’ve seen in the past couple of years it’s starting to feel much closer.

Do you think the potential benefits of AI outweigh its costs? Let us know @TrustedReviews. 

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.