Elon Musk Worries That AI Research Will Create an ‘Immortal Dictator’

By Brandon Specktor

Imagine your least-favorite world leader. (Take as much time as you need.)

Now, imagine if that person wasn’t a human, but a network of millions of computers around the world. This digi-dictator has instant access to every scrap of recorded information about every person who’s ever lived. It can make millions of calculations in a fraction of a second, controls the world’s economy and weapons systems with godlike autonomy and — scariest of all — can never, ever die.

This unkillable digital dictator, according to Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, is one of the darker scenarios awaiting humankind’s future if artificial-intelligence research continues without serious regulation.

“We are rapidly headed toward digital superintelligence that far exceeds any human, I think it’s pretty obvious,” Musk said in a new AI documentary called “Do You Trust This Computer?” directed by Chris Paine (who interviewed Musk previously for the documentary “Who Killed The Electric Car?”). “If one company or a small group of people manages to develop godlike digital super-intelligence, they could take over the world.”

Humans have tried to take over the world before. However, an authoritarian AI would have one terrible advantage over like-minded humans, Musk said.

“At least when there’s an evil dictator, that human is going to die,” Musk added. “But for an AI there would be no death. It would live forever, and then you’d have an immortal dictator, from which we could never escape.”

And, this hypothetical AI-dictator wouldn’t even have to be evil to pose a threat to humans, Musk added. All it has to be is determined.

“If AI has a goal and humanity just happens to be in the way, it will destroy humanity as a matter of course without even thinking about it. No hard feelings,” Musk said. “It’s just like, if we’re building a road, and an anthill happens to be in the way. We don’t hate ants, we’re just building a road. So, goodbye, anthill.”

Those who follow news from the Musk-verse will not be surprised by his opinions in the new documentary; the tech mogul has long been a vocal critic of unchecked artificial intelligence. In 2014, Musk called AI humanity’s “biggest existential threat,” and in 2015, he joined a handful of other tech luminaries and researchers, including Stephen Hawking, to urge the United Nations to ban killer robots. He has said unregulated AI poses “vastly more risk than North Korea” and proposed starting some sort of federal oversight program to monitor the technology’s growth.

“Public risks require public oversight,” he tweeted. “Getting rid of the FAA [wouldn’t] make flying safer. They’re there for good reason.”


The President of Molossia on how to run a micronation

by Vanessa Yurkevich

The best thing about starting your own micronation: You get to make up the rules.

And in Molossia, the rule-making comes from the President, His Excellency, Kevin Baugh.

It cost Baugh just $10,000 to build Molossia, which sits on 1.3 acres about an hour outside of Reno, Nevada. It’s a tourist attraction with its own bank (with its own currency that you buy with U.S. dollars) and general store.

It’s kind of a joke, but also kind of real.

There are about 200 so-called micronations in the world, though they are recognized only by other other micronations, not any other country. There’s no official designation, just a collection of others that deem you legitimate.

The 22 human “citizens” of Molossia — all family members — are Americans first and foremost, including at tax time. (There are also 6 canine citizens.)

Still, when you live in Molossia, the rules are real.

Rule your country, your way

Molossia is a dictatorship, but according to Baugh, it’s important to be an honest dictator.

“I kind of rule with an iron fist. Not really, actually. I’m kind of a nice dictator. Velvet glove,” Baugh said.

He said he often consults with the First Lady of Molossia (his wife, Adrianne), and the Chief Constable (his 11-year old daughter, Alexis). But in the end, what he says goes.

Enact some fun laws

The following items are not allowed in Molossia: Spinach, tobacco, torpedoes, playing processional instruments in the bathroom, and catfish.

“Catfish are banned because we were going to be in a magazine called FHM which is kind of like Maxim magazine,” said Baugh. “They were going to publish an article about Molossia and instead they bumped it for an article about guys that catch catfish with their hands.”

Dress to impress

It’s important to look the part. Baugh is always in black pants, a naval jacket adorned with medals, sunglasses, and an official hat.

He wears this official uniform when he has visitors and also when he travels on behalf of Molossia.

“You will gain respect from your peers and gain greater standing in the micronational world.”

Have a national food

Molossia’s national food is cookie dough. The national delicacy is honored at Cookie Dough Fest, where “Molossians eat copious amounts of cookie dough and watch (usually bad) scary movies.”

Celebrate your country

The Republic of Molossia has 25 holidays. There’s Jack Day on February 4, in honor of the former First Dog.

And, of course, no micronation would be complete without President’s day. “It’s actually celebrated as many times as possible during July, culminating with a trip to the Olive Garden, on or about July 30th.” That’s His Excellency’s birthday.