Elon Musk often takes to Twitter to share his many thoughts on a variety of topics and we must admit we love hearing his takes. This latest tidbit from the CEO billionaire entrepreneur caught us by surprise though.
Musk took to Twitter to share the following: "Toxoplasmosis infects rats, then cats, then humans who make cat videos. AI trains achieves superhuman intelligence training on Internet cat videos, thus making toxoplasmosis the true arbiter of our destiny."
Toxoplasmosis infects rats, then cats, then humans who make cat videos.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 2, 2021
AI trains achieves superhuman intelligence training on Internet cat videos, thus making toxoplasmosis the true arbiter of our destiny.
The tweet was in response to a National Geographic post that mentioned that "scientists found hyena cubs infected with toxoplasmosis are more likely to approach—and get killed by—lions than their uninfected peers."
The question now becomes: could there be some truth to Musk's theory?
We have written about toxoplasmosis before and here are the basics. An estimated 40 to 60 million people in the U.S. alone and more than two billion people world-wide are believed to be infected by this brain parasite. The parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, is usually transmitted through raw meat containing T. gondii cysts, or water containing oocysts from feline feces — a.k.a. cat poo.
In animals, the brain parasite induces reckless behavior such as an irrational lack of fear of their predators. Symptoms also include fatigue, vision problems, seizures, balance issues, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fever, ear twitching, and general behavioral changes.
But what are its effects on humans? According to a study published in ScienceDirect, humans infected with toxoplasmosis were more likely to be in car crashes. The study attributed this result to "extended reaction times."
But it wasn't due to a recklessness on their part, essentially, what the research found was that the parasite likely slowed people's reaction time down. So, can we argue that that same parasite is causing humans to create artificial intelligence? We believe it to be highly unlikely.