Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have just “won” the 2015 Luddite Award for their warnings about artificial intelligence.
A world-renowned physicist and the entrepreneur behind ventures like Tesla and SpaceX, neither of the two are exactly what you might call afraid of technology.
But the worries the two have expressed on the future of AI have led the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) to elect them and other AI sceptics the biggest Luddites of 2015, decrying the warnings as “alarmist”.
Despite acknowledging both Hawking and Musk as “pioneers of science and technology” the non-profit foundation criticised them for “demonising AI in the popular imagination”:
“If we want to continue increasing productivity, creating jobs, and increasing wages, then we should be accelerating AI development, not raising fears about its destructive potential,” said ITIF president Robert Atkinson.
Hawking has warned that artificial intelligent machines could kill us when they become too clever, saying that the real risk isn’t malice, but competence:
A super intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren't aligned with ours, we're in trouble.
The annual Luddite Award highlights what the foundation calls the “worst anti-technology ideas and policies” of the year.
Other nominees this year included Wyoming’s decision to outlaw citizen science, and the Centre for Food Safety’s fight against genetically modified food.