Monday 27 October 2014 7:02 am

Elon Musk: "We need to be careful with artificial intelligence"

Elon Musk may have made millions from technology, but that doesn't mean he doesn't worry about it bringing about a Terminator-style end to humanity.

During a talk to students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the SpaceX-Tesla-PayPal tycoon warned that "we should be very careful" about how we use artificial intelligence, adding it could be humanity's "biggest existential threat".

With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there's the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it's like yeah he's sure he can control the demon. Didn't work out.

This isn't the first time Musk has voiced his fears about AI: in August, he recommended the book "Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies", by Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom, the founding director of Oxford university's Future of Humanity Institute, to Twitter followers. "Potentially more dangerous than nukes," he added.

In the book, Bostrom suggests the development of AI will either be very beneficial or very bad for humanity, even going as far as to argue that the dystopian vision of super-intelligent machines taking over the world could become a reality. 

Musk also talked about SpaceX's plans to help populate Mars, pointing out that although "it's cool" to send a mission to Mars, "that's not what will change the future for humanity". "What matters is being able to establish a self-sustaining civilisation on Mars," he added.

Then again, if we've already been wiped out by super-intelligent robots, whether or not we can populate Mars is kind of a moot point…