Elon Musk warns technology could kill us in five years

Elon Musk
'I never even got to see the aurora borealis'

Elon Musk has been in the spotlight a lot recently, from his work on internet-enabling satellites to his sort-of existential crisis over virtual reality. Now, just days after announcing that AI is humanity's "biggest existential threat", Musk has put a timeframe on it. He reckons that in five years time we could be in a lot of trouble.

It seems that the Tesla CEO took to Edge.org to voice his opinion in a comment, which was later removed. But of course, someone screencapped it and posted it to Reddit.

Musk wrote that AI is progressing "incredibly fast" and that unless you've got access to groups like Deepmind, you probably have no idea of its "exponential" rate.

Judgement day

"The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe," he wrote. "10 years at most. Please note that I am normally super pro technology, and have never raised the issue until recent months. This is not a case of crying wolf about something I don't understand.

"I am not alone in thinking we should be worried. The leading AI companies have taken great steps to ensure safety. They recognize the danger, but believe that they can shape and control the digital superintelligences and prevent bad ones from escaping into the Internet. That remains to be seen..."

Musk has been a long time contributor to Edge, and the legitimacy of his comment was verified to Mashable so we at least know it was him. Apparently, the remark was sent in an email and wasn't intended to be shared publicly, but he intends to publish a longer post on the topic soon.

Whatever the case, Musk might have a good point. His prediction may be terrifyingly near-term, but when you consider the rate at which AI is evolving in the public domain alone, you start to wonder if Elon's right to start sounding the alarms.

Hugh Langley

Hugh Langley is the ex-News Editor of TechRadar. He had written for many magazines and websites including Business Insider, The Telegraph, IGN, Gizmodo, Entrepreneur Magazine, WIRED (UK), TrustedReviews, Business Insider Australia, Business Insider India, Business Insider Singapore, Wareable, The Ambient and more.

Hugh is now a correspondent at Business Insider covering Google and Alphabet, and has the unfortunate distinction of accidentally linking the TechRadar homepage to a rival publication.