On Friday, Russian president Vladimir Putin told a group of school children that "whoever leads in AI will rule the world."
"Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind," said Putin, reports RT. "It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world."
While it's easy to latch on to the first set of statements, the leader said he did not want to see anyone "monopolize" the realm of AI.
"If we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with entire world, the same way we share our nuclear technologies today," he told students from across Russia via satellite link-up.
The Global Response
It's that comparison to nuclear weapons testing and relationships that are drawing ire today. Global political leaders seem to tense up under the mention of nuclear weapons testing, and only a handful of countries could 'hold their own' in nuclear power and force.
The statement from Putin meant to 'inspire' a new generation of AI developers has drawn several responses from other nations around the world.
Artificial Intelligence currently has two key leading nations in its development -- China and the United States. China recently announced a very public goal to become the global leader in AI development by 2030. And, given U.S. President Donald Trump cutting significant portions of funding from tech research groups, this could very easily become the case for China. Last week, a report by banking giant Goldman Sachs noted that China surpassing the U.S. could happen.
"We believe AI technology will become a priority on the government's agenda, and we expect further national/regional policy and funding support on AI to follow," the investment bank said.
Most of the United States' AI development has come from the private sector of business rather than from government initiatives. Tech giants like Google and Microsoft continue to funnel resources into developing the best AIs on the market. Google's DeepMind initiative and various AI experiments feature technologies the company hopes to one day use to revolutionize the tech industry.
Elon Musk and His Twitter Response
However, one can't have a discussion without the future of Artificial Intelligence without bringing up the name Elon Musk. And, as per usual, Musk gave his opinion in what many assume is a direct response to Putin's statements on Friday. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO who will probably be the global mediator should any robot apocalypse occur said that there is no healthy competition in AI. Early Monday morning, Musk tweeted a response to an article from the Verge regarding Putin's statement.
China, Russia, soon all countries w strong computer science. Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 4, 2017
Yes, in addition to A.I. also being a bigger global threat than North Korean nuclear weapons, AI technology will probably inspire WWIII. And just in case you hoped discussion got more nuanced in the comments, it doesn't.
May be initiated not by the country leaders, but one of the AI's, if it decides that a prepemptive strike is most probable path to victory— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 4, 2017
Throughout conversations with his Twitter followers, Musk remained convinced that the end is nigh should AI become a global competition.
Govts don't need to follow normal laws. They will obtain AI developed by companies at gunpoint, if necessary.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 4, 2017
Yup, still not comforting.
However, earlier this year, Musk and another 116 technology leaders from around the world (most specializing in A.I.) petitioned the United Nations to ban killer robots. During this summer, Musk went before the National Governor's Association and begged state governments to take AI seriously as it poses an 'existential risk.'
"AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization, and I don't think people fully appreciate that," Musk said.
In 2015, the entrepreneur partnered with Stephen Hawking and Apple's Steve Wozniak to write an 'open letter on Artificial Intelligence.' The letter drew international attention in its circulation; however, it will remain to be seen if those who were once supportive of restricting A.I. for safety's sake will keep supporting that goal in the event of a global competition.