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Here’s how Elon Musk is stopping AI from killing us all

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, has never been shy about his belief that artificial intelligence is the forerunner to humanity’s downfall.

Fortunately for the likeminded, Musk has invested millions into the Future of Life Institute (FLI), which looks to put a stopper on evil AI.

The FLI has now announced that it’s issuing grants to nearly 40 research teams, which all hope to battle AI in different ways.

Three projects will work to create AI systems that learn what humans do and don’t like through observation, courtesy of Oxford University and US Berkeley.

Then there’s a project at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute that wants to examine how to keep “superintelligent systems aligned with human values”.

Other attempts to control AI include making systems explain their decisions to humans, understanding how to keep the economic impacts of AI beneficial, how to keep AI-driven weapons under “meaningful human control”, and a project that researches AI-relevant legislation.

Around $7 million will be doled out to the research teams, much of which comes courtesy of Musk’s investments.

Related: 9 creepy ways robots are replacing humans

Late last year, Musk waxed lyrical on AI, comparing progress in the sector to “summoning the demon”.

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence,” explained Musk. “If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful.”

But are we really all about to be wiped out by robots? Probably not, at least according to FLI president Max Tegmark.

The danger with the Terminator scenario isn’t that it will happen, but that it distracts from the real issuesposed by future AI,” says Tegmark.

He continues: “We’re staying focused, and the 37 teams supported by today’s grants should help solve such real issues.”

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