Vanity Fair | Elon Musk’s billion dollar crusade to stop the AI apocalypse

Ray Kurzweil interview on artificial intelligence futures.
March 31, 2017


publication: Vanity Fair
column: Hive

story title: Elon Musk’s billion dollar crusade to stop the AI apocalpyse
story author: by Maureen Dowd
date: April 2017 issue


story excerpts from interview with Ray Kurzweil:

1. |  Spiraling capabilities of self-improving artificial intelligence

Google has gobbled up almost every robotics & machine learning company.It bought Deep•Mind for $650 million, and built the Google Brain team to work on artificial intelligence.

Google hired Geoffrey Hinton, PhD, pioneer in artificial neural networks. It also hired Ray Kurzweil, the futurist who predicted humans are 28 years away  from “singularity” — the moment when spiraling capabilities of self-improving artificial super-intelligence will exceed human intelligence, and humans will merge with AI to create hybrid beings of the future.


2. |  Computers are already doing many attributes of thinking

Trying to puzzle out AI, I went to meet Ray Kurzweil — author of book The Singularity Is Near, a Utopian vision of AI future. Kurzweil said computers are already “doing many attributes of thinking. Just a few years ago, AI couldn’t tell the difference between a dog and cat. Now it can. The list of things humans can do better than computers gets smaller and smaller. We create these tools to extend our long reach.”


3. |  The promise & peril are deeply intertwined, the strategy is control the peril

Ray Kurzweil uses the word “we” when talking about super-intelligent future beings — compared to Elon Musk’s more ominous “they.”

Elon Musk said he was bewildered that Ray Kurzweil isn’t worried about AI hazards. “That’s not true. I’m the one who articulated the dangers,” Kurzweil said. “The promise and peril are deeply intertwined. There are strategies to control the peril, as there have been with bio-tech guidelines.”

Kurzweil said Musk’s bête noire could come true. He said our AI children “may be friendly and may not. If it’s not friendly, we may have to fight it by getting an AI on our side that’s even smarter.”


4. | 3 stages of the human response to new tech

Kurzweil said there are 3 stages of the human response to new tech:

1. Wow!
2. Uh oh!
3. What other choice do we have but to move forward?

Ray Kurzweil predicts by the 2030s, we will be cyborgs. Nanorobots the size of blood cells will heal our bodies from the inside — connecting us to synthetic neo-cortex in the cloud, and to virtual & augmented reality. “We’ll be funnier, more musical, wiser,” he said.

* AI is artificial intelligence



one the web  | background
Google’s research & development.

Research at Google • welcome | main
Research at Google • teams | Google Brain
Research at Google • people | Geoffrey Hinton, PhD

Alphabet | main
Alphabet | Google
Alphabet | Deep•Mind


one the web  | background
About inventor & business entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Wikipedia | Elon Musk